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There is plenty on the line for both the All Blacks and Wallabies at Eden Park in the second Bledisloe Cup test. Here are 10 points, written by New Zealand Herald writer Christopher Reive, that could go a long way in determining the winner.
FIVE REASONS THE ALL BLACKS WILL (PROBABLY) WIN
The All Blacks haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994, and Australia hasn’t won at the ground in 33 years. If there was ever a team to feed off of a home-field advantage, it’s the All Blacks when playing at Eden Park.
In 165 matches between the two sides, New Zealand has won 114. You have to go all the way back to the 2001 Tri-Nations to find the last time the Wallabies claimed back-to-back wins over the All Blacks.
You know what they say: pressure makes diamonds.
Former All Black Carl Hayman talks about his setbacks in 2019 https://t.co/Ov0w6hbw8L
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2019
Opportunity is everything
This is the All Blacks’ penultimate Test before the World Cup, but it’s also the last time they will play before the World Cup squad is announced. The midfield is still a puzzle, and there will be some tough choices to make in the front row and in the backline.
On the wings, Sevu Reece and George Bridge have been handed golden opportunities to make a lasting impression on the selectors, while Sonny Bill Williams will start in the midfield looking to show he is fit and ready to go. They will all be eyeing a big performance.
If all the records and historic data aren’t enough to spur the hosts on, the simple matter of not wanting to see the Australians make off with the Bledisloe Cup surely will. Steve Hansen has said the Bledisloe is second only to the World Cup in their plans this year, so you can bet that they won’t want to see it going to Australian shores.
WHAT DO THE WALLABIES HAVE GOING FOR THEM?
If you’re a believer in momentum, you will know it is firmly on the side of one team. On the back of their biggest ever win over the All Blacks, the Wallabies will come surging into Eden Park with the belief they can take the Bledisloe back home.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
They will have plenty of people cheering them on and hoping they win, but there will be very few who actually expect them to. The Wallabies have nothing to prove and everything to gain from this fixture.
Pressure (part II)
Pressure is a sword – and sometimes you find yourself on the pointy end. The Wallabies will be hoping that is the case for the All Blacks.
The kid is a threat. His selection ahead of Will Genia in the No9 jersey last weekend out was questioned by some but he put any doubts to rest with his performance. You can bet he will get right back to scurrying from the back of the ruck to test the All Blacks defence. If he can cut through them as easily as he did last week it could spell problems for the All Blacks.
A former Wallaby has stoked the fires of trans-Tasman rivalry on the eve of Bledisloe II, firing a number of shots at the 'sad declining All Blacks.'https://t.co/8f63OtrWd3
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 16, 2019
Continuity, or lack thereof
Weekly changes to the All Blacks’ matchday squad doesn’t allow the players out there to form reliable combinations. Using the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe matches alikeWorld Cup trials is something that has to be done but it could be costly for the All Blacks in the short term.
NEW ZEALAND: 1. Joe Moody (39 caps), 2. Dane Coles (63), 3. Nepo Laulala (18), 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (23), 5. Samuel Whitelock (110), 6. Ardie Savea (37), 7. Sam Cane (62), 8. Kieran Read – captain (120), 9. Aaron Smith (85), 10. Richie Mo’unga (11), 11. George Bridge (3), 12. Sonny Bill Williams (52), 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (36), 14. Sevu Reece (1), 15. Beauden Barrett (76). Reps: 16. Codie Taylor (43), 17. Ofa Tuungafasi (28), 18. Angus Ta’avao (6), 19. Jackson Hemopo (4), 20. Matt Todd (19), 21. TJ Perenara (57), 22. Ngani Laumape (12), 23. Jordie Barrett (10).
AUSTRALIA: 1. Scott Sio (57 caps), 2. Tolu Latu (14), 3. Allan Alaalatoa (33), 4. Izack Rodda (20), 5. Adam Coleman (32), 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (14), 7. Michael Hooper – captain (94), 8. Isi Naisarani (3), 9. Nic White (25), 10. Christian Leali’ifano (21), 11. Marika Koroibete (22), 12. Samu Kerevi (28), 13. James O’Connor (46), 14. Reece Hodge (36), 15. Kurtley Beale (86). Reps: 16. Folau Fainga’a (10), 17. James Slipper (89), 18. Taniela Tupou (14), 19. Rob Simmons (96), 20. Liam Wright (uncapped), 21. Will Genia (103), 22. Matt To’omua (45), 23. Adam Ashley-Cooper (117)
WATCH: Australia winning the 1998 Bledisloe Cup
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