The following is a preview with betting tips for the Rugby Championship Week 2 (and Bledisloe Cup) clash between the All Blacks and Wallabies. The game kicks off at 5:35 PM AEST on Saturday the 23rd of August. The venue is Eden Park in Auckland and the referee is Romain Poite from France.
|15 – Fullback||Israel Folau||Ben Smith|
|14 – Right Wing||Pat McCabe||Cory Jane|
|13 – Outside Centre||Adam Ashley-Cooper||Conrad Smith|
|12 – Inside Centre||Matt Toomua||Ryan Crotty|
|11 – Left Wing||Rob Horne||Julian Savea|
|10 – Fly-half||Kurtley Beale||Aaron Cruden|
|9 – Scrum Half||Nic White||Aaron Smith|
|8 – Number Eight||Wycliff Palu||Kieran Read|
|7 – Openside Flanker||Michael Hooper (c)||Richie McCaw (c)|
|6 – Blindside Flanker||Scott Fardy||Liam Messam|
|5 – Right Lock||Sam Carter||Sam Whitelock|
|4 – Left Lock||Rob Simmons||Brodie Retallick|
|3 – Tighthead Prop||Sekope Kepu||Owen Franks|
|2 – Hooker||Nathan Charles||Dane Coles|
|1 – Loosehead Prop||James Slipper||Wyatt Crockett|
|16||James Hanson||Keven Mealamu|
|17||Pekahou Cowan||Ben Franks|
|18||Ben Alexander||Charlie Faumuina|
|19||Will Skelton||Steve Luatua|
|20||Scott Higginbotham||Sam Cane|
|21||Nick Phipps||TJ Perenara|
|22||Bernard Foley||Beauden Barrett|
|23||Tevita Kuridrani||Malakai Fekitoa|
While journalists on both side of the Tasman felt their team let a win go begging last week, the Wallabies will arguably be the more disappointed. They now have to avoid defeat in both of their next two Tests against the All Blacks if they are to win back the Bledisloe Cup. Overall the Wallabies matched up well against the All Blacks last week, particularly in the forwards. One aspect of their performance that does need addressing, however, is their kicking game. Halfback Nic White was quick to resort to the box kick in Sydney, which proved to be pretty ineffective. Wallabies captain Michael Hooper may also rue his decisions not to kick for goal in the first half. The Wallabies will have a good deal of confidence in the camp, however they should be wary of Eden Park. In 2008 the Wallabies beat the All Blacks 34-15 in Sydney only to get smashed 39-10 a week later in Auckland.
Coach Ewen McKenzie has opted for the same 23-man line up that featured in the 12-12 draw in Sydney. Kurtley Beale retains the No. 10 jersey with Bernard Foley starting on the bench.
While their 18-game winning streak has now turned into a 19-game undefeated streak, the All Blacks will be satisfied in knowing that a win at their Eden Park fortress will secure the Bledisloe Cup for another year with New Zealand scheduled to host Australia twice in 2015. The All Blacks have made three changes to the starting XV for this clash. Ryan Crotty replaces the injured Ma’a Nonu at inside-centre while Conrad Smith returns at outside-centre with Malakai Fekitoa dropping to the bench. The third change sees Liam Messam, who was rested last week, replace the injured Jerome Kaino at blindside flanker. Charlie Faumuina is also back and replaces Joe Moody on the bench.
The All Blacks have won six and drawn twice since the Wallabies last defeated them in a Bledisloe Cup dead-rubber in 2011. The Wallabies face an uphill battle on Saturday because Eden Park has been a graveyard for visiting teams. The All Blacks have won their last 32 Tests at this venue, with their last defeat coming back in 1994. The last time the Wallabies won at Eden Park was in 1986, before many of the current Wallabies were born. Fixtures in New Zealand in general have been tough for the Wallabies. Their last win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil was thirteen years ago.
Below are the most recent head-to-head results in New Zealand
2013: All Blacks 41 – 33 Wallabies (Dunedin)
2013: All Blacks 27 – 16 Wallabies (Wellington)
2012: All Blacks 22 – 0 Wallabies (Auckland)
2011: All Blacks 20 – 6 Wallabies (Auckland – Rugby World Cup)
2011: All Blacks 30 – 14 Wallabies (Auckland)
2010: All Blacks 20 – 10 Wallabies (Christchurch)
2009: All Blacks 33 – 6 Wallabies (Wellington)
2009: All Blacks 22 – 16 Wallabies (Auckland)
Eden Park history is certainly weighing heavily on bookmakers’ minds, who have installed the All Blacks as 10.5 favourites after the draw a week ago in Sydney. In the head-to-head market the best available odds at the time of writing were 1.26 for the All Blacks and 4.34 for the Wallabies (Pinnacle Sports).
The All Blacks have beaten the Wallabies by an average of 14.5 points in their previous four Tests at Eden Park but I suspect the Wallabies have closed the gap over the last 12 months. I predict the All Blacks will win on Saturday, nevertheless I would back the Wallabies +16.5 at 1.50 (Sportsbet). Note that 12 of the last 16 Tests between the All Blacks and Wallabies in New Zealand were won by 16 points or less.
If I had to pick a winning margin I would guess the All Blacks will win by around 8-10 points. I would back the All Blacks 6-10 at 5.00 and 11-15 at 5.00 in the Five Point Margins market (Sportingbet). This combination of wagers would have won in 10 of the last 16 Tests between the All Blacks and Wallabies in New Zealand.
If you were dropped on your head as a baby
First of all, congratulations to everyone who followed my “dropped on your head as a baby” advice last week, with the draw paying 26.00 odds. The weather should be fine in Auckland on Saturday so I predict (and hope!) that we won’t witness another tryless game this weekend. Last week I picked three correct margins (-1, 1 1) and one got up, so I will try my luck again and place the following three wagers in the Exact Winning Margin market:
Note that if one gets up your effective odds are 7.33 and this combination of wagers would have won in 4 of the last 16 Tests between the All Blacks and Wallabies in New Zealand.