It’s no secret how dominant the All Blacks have been in the Bledisloe Cup series since they last won the silverware off the Wallabies way back in 2003.
For 17 years, the likes of Reuben Thorne, Tana Umaga, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read regularly lifted the coveted trans-Tasman prize aloft at the expense of the Australians, and after New Zealand’s 27-7 win at Eden Park nine days ago, All Blacks captain Sam Cane is on track to join his predecessors.
Up 1-0 in what has effectively become a three-match series following the 16-all draw in the opening test of the year in Wellington two-and-a-half weeks ago, the All Blacks register as firm favourites to lock the Bledisloe Cup away for another summer.
Lying beneath that extraordinary winning run, however, are some surprising statistics that have largely been overlooked and have forced All Blacks star Beauden Barrett and his teammates away from complacency ahead of Bledisloe Cup III in Sydney this weekend.
While New Zealand’s current Bledisloe Cup winning run over Australia is among the longest tenures in the trophy’s 88-year history, the majority of times it has been re-secured throughout their current spell has been on Kiwi soil.
On only four occasions since 2003 have the All Blacks ensured that the Bledisloe Cup would remain at New Zealand Rugby headquarters by attaining victory in Australia.
Every other time they have confirmed their status as the superior Anzac side came while playing in front of a home crowd.
One might argue the scheduling of the Tri Nations and Rugby Championship played a significant role in that being the case, but there is recent evidence to suggest the Kiwis do struggle across the ditch.
Since 2011, the All Blacks have endured a win rate of just 50 percent against the Wallabies in Australia, a figure that pales in comparison to the 18-year unbeaten run against the same opponents in New Zealand.
Furthermore, the Wallabies have won two of the last three games between the old foes in Australia, with the most recent of those victories coming last year when the hosts ran riot in Perth to grab a record 47-26 win.
It’s a repeat of that result that Barrett is looking to avoid when the two sides meet again in a match that doubles as the opening Tri Nations fixture of the year at ANZ Stadium.
Wallabies stars have responded to a column that claimed the Aussies are lacking "genuine hard men" after the All Blacks' dominant victory in the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park. #BledisloeCup #NZLvAUS https://t.co/WpePNFD9jd
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 26, 2020
“Of course it bothers us,” he told media on Tuesday of the fact that the 16-all stalemate in Wellington – the only blemish in the All Blacks’ 95.8 percent win rate against the Wallabies in New Zealand since 2002 – has handed Australia the chance to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup on home soil.
“But, we can’t be too arrogant and assume we’re going to win every game at home.
“We do respect Australia and we are up for the challenge that is presented this weekend. We haven’t won the Bledisloe Cup on this soil for a long time, so we’ve got an opportunity to do that for the first time in maybe 20-or-so years.
“We’re pretty excited by that challenge.”
For factual accuracy’s sake, the last time the All Blacks managed to retain the Bledisloe Cup on Australian soil actually came in 2009 when they defeated the Wallabies 19-18 in Sydney, the second of four tests, after notching a first-up win at Eden Park.
With Barrett at the playmaking helm, in tandem with first-five Richie Mo’unga, the New Zealanders will have to replicate that result on Saturday if they’re to ensure the trophy stays on the eastern side of the Tasman Sea for another year.
In order to do that, lessons have to be learned from the last time the All Blacks visited the Wallabies’ backyard, which resulted in the equal-biggest defeat in New Zealand’s 117-year test history.
“It’s important to remember how we felt in the changing room or in the game during those moments and use that as fuel and little reminders on when things don’t go well, why did that happen,” Barrett, who scored a try in that match, said of the Perth defeat.
“[It was] a reality check as to why we didn’t prepare as well as we should have, so we don’t want it to happen again, but each test is different. We have to prepare for this test in Sydney this weekend.
“It’s good to be aware. I think that one showed their strengths when everything goes to plan and we don’t front physically and emotionally.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 27, 2020
Failure to beat the Wallabies in the coming days, however, will see the series head into a do-or-die decider in Brisbane next week.
Barrett and his teammates, of course, will be eager to prevent that from happening, with the 29-year-old hinting at the nullification of Australia’s attacking playing style, spearheaded by halfback Nic White, as crucial to their chances of victory.
“We’ve learned a lot in these first two games,” Barrett said.
“With Nic White out there, they like to get him running on the back of some pretty strong ball carries, so they like to play that fast footy, go-forward footy.
“They’ve got some really skilful playmakers and some hard-running backs, so it’s a pretty well-balanced game that they’re playing.
“I wouldn’t say there are too many surprises. We experienced a rampant performance in Perth last year when everything seemed to work well for them, so I think that’s the sort of game they’re aiming to play.”
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