Rugby Championship: Australia v New Zealand Preview

Rugby Championship 2018: Australia v New Zealand Preview

Old foes Australia and New Zealand will get the 2018 Rugby Championship underway on Saturday the 18th of August.

The opening game of the 2018 Rugby championship will see reigning champions New Zealand travel across the Tasman to take on bitter-rivals, Australia. The two sides met three times last year, with the New Zealanders winning two and the Aussies winning one. The first encounter ended in tears for Michael Cheika's side though, as they went down 34-54.

Will history repeat itself this Saturday or will Cheika's lads produce the goods on home soil?

Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 18 August
Anz Stadium
11:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 7/2
Draw 25/1
New Zealand 1/5

Handicap
Australia (+11.5) 9/10
New Zealand (-11.5) 9/10


Australia
Michael Cheika's men may have started their 2018 campaign with a 2-1 home series defeat to the Irish but there's still a lot of optimism amongst Australia's rugby faithful. I suppose it's actually rather valid faith.

The Australian franchises proved a lot more competitive during this year's Super Rugby tournament. And they have some players in red-hot form, with the Waratahs' triumvirate of Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau spearheading the New South Wales-based sides crusade to the Super Rugby semi-finals.

The Wallabies are going to need these three men to fire if their backline is to get any joy out of a strong yet breachable All Black defensive line.

The Waratahs lads will have little ball to work with if loose forward stars, Michael Hooper and David Pocock don't fire. These two men will play a pivotal role at the breakdown this weekend. And if they can get the upper hand or even parity, then the Wallabies may just be in business.

New Zealand
It was quite absurd to hear Steven Hansen label his team as the underdogs last week. I mean this is an All Black side that are on a 12 game unbeaten streak in the Rugby Championship! And while they did lose the third Bledisloe Test against Australia last year, the side they fielded was extremely experimental. And a far shot from the one that will take to the field this Saturday.

Perhaps, Hansen's trying to keep his charges' on their toes? One man who doesn't need much more motivation to put in a big performance is the mercurial Beauden Barrett. The Hurricanes pivot is currently warding off a challenge from Crusaders star Richie Mo'unga, who was nothing short of magnificent during the Crusaders run to the title.

Now Barrett isn't one to crumble under pressure - okay, his goal kicking goes to pot at times but he generally steps up to the mark when called upon - and I'm expecting a huge performance from the two-time World Player of the year.


Verdict: New Zealand (-11.5) 9/10
I expect Beuaden Barrett to put in a performance that silences the critics, and, in the process, silences what will be an optimistic ANZ Stadium. New Zealand to beat the 'cap is the way to go.



Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

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