Australia will be looking to make home ground advantage count when they take on New Zealand at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday the 31st of October.
Image copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Old foes Australia and New Zealand will square off this Sunday in the third game of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup which will also double as the Tri-Nations opener.
The Kiwis currently hold the advantage having won the second Bledisloe Cup game a fortnight ago. A win here will see Ian Foster’s men secure the trans-Tasman title with a game to spare. A win for the Australians, however, would see everything left to play for heading into their final meeting the following weekend.
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 31 October
To Win (80 Mins)
New Zealand 1/4
New Zealand (-7.5)
*Please note that these are forecast handicaps
The Wallabies will be looking to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive and make a fast start to their home Rugby Championship/Tri-Nations when they welcome the All Blacks to Sydney this Saturday.
Dave Rennie’s men have made a positive start under the new coach’s tutelage drawing with the All Blacks in Wellington before going down 27-7 at Eden Park the following weekend. While they were well-beaten in the second fixture, the Wallabies will still take a lot of heart out of that jaunt to their neighbours back yard.
One of the main concerns for Rennie coming out of that second game will be the number of tackles his side slipped – they missed 40 tackles at a rate of a missed tackle every two minutes. This is simply not good enough at international level and particularly against the All Blacks who just need half a line break to score a try.
Another issue for the former Japan coach will be the injury suffered by veteran Matt Too’mua who sustained a groin injury that is likely to rule him out of the remaining Bledisloe Tests. The Melbourne Rebels man was going really well at 12 and his combination play with fly-half James O’Connor was looking promising. With Too’mua out Rennie will be forced to rejig his midfield.
The Kiwis bounced back from their disappointing 16-16 Bledisloe 1 draw with a solid 27-7 victory in Bledisloe 2. Ian Foster’s men looked a lot more assured of themselves in that second encounter with their forwards upping their work rate at the breakdown which insured their backs go solid front foot ball.
The star of the show in the second Bledisloe encounter was undoubtedly young Blues man, Caleb Clarke, who racked up metres at will. The youngster is likely to play a key role again this coming weekend.
Like his counterpart, New Zealand coach Ian Foster has a couple difficult selection calls to make. The first of these headaches is what to do with his midfield. While the pairing of Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienhardt Brown went well in Bledisloe 2, it does seem to be lacking some cutting edge. Will Foster opt to reinstate Rieko Ioane, who made a meal of a certain try in Bledisloe 1? Or does he stick with the Goodhue/Lienhardt Brown pairing? He may even opt to go left field and shift Goodhue to 13 and bring in wrecking ball inside Ngani Laumape who is back to full fitness.
Verdict: Australia (+7.5) 9/10 *Forecast Odds
I fancy the Aussies to keep this one tight. They’re at home and there’s a lot on the line. While I can’t see them bagging a win, I can see them giving their neighbours a real run for their money.