New Zealand and Australia came together to produce one of the most remarkable test matches seen for a long time last weekend and even if this week’s encounter is less entertaining, the hosts ought to get the job done again.
The All Blacks simply tore through the hapless Wallabies in the first half of last week’s match, with their opposition simply unable to live with the speed and accuracy of the whole team from 1-15 although Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane and Beauden Barrett were standouts with the first named of those pair helping themselves to try doubles whilst Barrett himself was only denied a try by the TMO although he did manage to set up scores for two of his team-mates. A shout out too for Damian McKenzie, who was brilliant on debut and a constant threat to the Australian line.
Australia were so blown away that they were 40-6 down by half time but thankfully for the dignity of all involved they did manage to put together some sort of response by stringing together four straight ties to ‘win’ the second half 28-10.
Steve Hansen has tried to keep his charges aware by suggesting that the comeback – combined with the effect of a first run out of the championship for many players who didn’t make the playoffs in Super Rugby – could spur on improvement but the reality is that the All Blacks eased off the gas once they hit the 50-point mark last week and most Wallaby fans are probably very grateful that was the case.
Michael Chieka tried to defend his coaching set up and defensive strategy there but Australia were constantly exposed around the openside last week as well as leaving gaping holes through the centre and wings last week and even a drastic change looks unlikely to have much effect given how dominate Liam Squire, Sam Cane and Kieran Read were over eight minutes last week.
Infront of their own fans there ought to be more focus from the All Blacks this time around so it’s understandable that bookmakers have set the line at 30 for the hosts, but that is also an incredibly difficult handicap. The All Blacks appeared to be reaching incredible levels last week but they may have been flattered by grade school defending and a similar performance or an improved one could easily see them push 50 points once again – the All Blacks scored a point a minute for nearly the first hour last week.
However, a scorned Australia are sure to come out all guns blazing especially off the back of a very public beating and there surely has to be some sort of response from the senior figures and also Chieka himself, so there is unlikely to be the truly basic opportunities that we saw being gifted last weekend.
However, it’s not hard to imagine that the All Blacks have plenty in the locker if needs be and however it occurs, this ought to be a comfortable win for New Zealand once again. Whilst the circumstances for last week are remarkable, they ended up winning by 20 points, making it wins by 20, 27 and 20 points in their last three meetings with the Wallabies. This Wallaby outfit is inferior to those of the past two years, but ditching the 21-30 and 31-40 point winning margins could be the sensible play.
The other area of the game that appeals are the anytime tryscorer markets. All of the All Blacks backline scored last week apart from Beauden Barrett (disallowed try) and Aaron Smith. Sonny Bill Williams is 7/5 to get onto the scoresheet which makes appeal with the hulking centre thriving off Ryan Crotty’s creativity last week and Crotty might actually be a bet to score once again this week. The outside centre was a tour de force for the All Blacks last week and 6/5 on him scoring (9/2 to notch a double) is inviting.
1 pt New Zealand to win by 21-30 points (10/3 Ladbrokes)
1 pt New Zealand to win by 31-40 points (10/3 Ladbrokes)
1 pt Sonny Bill Williams to score a try (7/5 Paddy Power)
1 pt Ryan Crotty to score a try (6/5 general)