Monday 18 December 2017 / 04:45 AM

BLEDISLOE CUP TEST PREVIEW

New Zealand v Australia – 5.35pm (AEDT), Saturday, October 22 @ Eden Park, Auckland

Australia heads to Auckland for the third and final Bledisloe Cup clash this Saturday, with 30 years of Eden Park pain and a history-chasing New Zealand side to overcome.

The All Blacks have already won the silverware, destroying the Wallabies in Sydney and Wellington – but like all New Zealand versus Australia games, this won’t be a dead rubber.

The All Blacks are aiming to break their own record (held jointly with South Africa) of 17 consecutive Test wins; if they win this, the world champs will be on an 18-match run, making them the best team ever statistically.

If victory comes for the All Blacks, Kieran Read will take sole ownership of the record for consecutive wins as captain, eclipsing the 18-Test mark he currently holds with England great Martin Johnson.

The Wallabies are trying to do the opposite – an Australian team has not been whitewashed 3-0 by two teams in over 100 years, and after losing to England 3-0 in June this year, they’ll need a major boilover to avoid creating some unwanted history.

THE TEAMS

All Blacks have made one change to the starting line-up, bringing back ‘The Bus’, Julian Savea, to the left wing for Waisake Naholo. They have also made two changes to the bench, with Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa coming back in. Matt Todd gets to start his second Test for the year with Ardie Savea still on the bench. Steve Hansen this week said that Ardie Savea is a much better finisher, so at present a reserves jumper suits him better; and as it is only his first year of international rugby, he is still learning the ins and outs of Test footy.

Michael Cheika has made key changes to his side, dropping Quade Cooper back to the bench and reinstating Bernard Foley to the No.10 role. Versatile rookie Reece Hodge slots into inside centre, with Henry Speight the new addition on the wing. David Pocock returns from injury on the bench, with Lopeti Timani holding onto the No.8 jumper in an unchanged forward pack.

The demotion of Cooper is a fantastic idea, as the Wallabies forward pack struggle to go forward and two big centres will help them get over the advantage line. Israel Folau is not in the best form at fullback, hindering their go-forward, and they’ll be looking for a turnaround from the crosscode superstar. Bernard Foley was essentially at 12 to give him the ball but it seems it wasn’t working out.

PREDICTION

The All Blacks last lost to Australia at Eden Park in 1986, 30 years ago, while their last defeat at the ground was way back in 1994 against France, with a teenaged Jonah Lomu exposed in his second Test outing. If The Wallabies win this game, it will be the biggest upset in the history of trans-Tasman rugby competition. The consecutive wins mantle is the only record that as has eluded the All Blacks, and they would love to ice a dominant Rugby Championship campaign by taking sole ownership of the record.

The Wallabies are still in a rebuilding phase – evidenced by Cheika abandoning yet another Quade experiment – and if we are going to be honest, the All Blacks are absolutely killing it. Like all games that Australia and New Zealand play in any sport, it will be entertaining and it won’t be as much of a blowout like the 42-8 Sydney drubbing. The Wallabies have some semblance of continuity and game-plan now, but nowhere near enough to trouble the in-form ABs.

TIP: All Blacks by 24

Add Comment

About the author

Ryan Frisby

Sunshine Coast-based Ryan is proud product of Southland, NZ, and was unsurprisingly brought up on a steady diet of ruby union - which has led him to provide CBS with his forthright views on the 15-a-side code.

More rugby-union News

Special Features

PARTNERS