Australia vs New Zealand PreviewJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
Preview – Kickoff 8.35am UK
The Wallabies take on the All Blacks at the iconic Eden Park stadium in Auckland this Saturday in search of their first win at the ground since September 6th, 1986. If there is any ground in the world that presents a near insurmountable challenge for Australian sides, this is it.
Michael Hooper’s men will rightly feel they had the upper hand during an error strewn 12-12 draw in wet and windy conditions last week in Sydney. They failed only to land the knockout blow in what was a dour match marred by handling errors from both sides.
They will be buoyed by their showing and are still in a confident mood following the Waratah’s impressive Super 15 campaign. Winning away from home would be a huge boon to a young and exciting side.
With conditions at Eden Park set to be fair, we should be in for more of a spectacle in the second Bledisloe Cup game with a greater emphasis on running rugby.
As always the breakdown will be ferociously contested, with Hooper and Richie McCaw going head to head in an area that could go a long way to determining the outcome. Kieran Read has looked human for the first time in living memory and Time seems to be catching up with even the great McCaw, can the Wallabies’ back row capitalise?
French Referee Romain Poite will have an important role to play here considering the All Blacks have picked up a hefty total of 9 yellow cards in their last 12 Tests. How he adjudges the breakdown will be crucial and it will be the team that adjusts to his interpretations quickly that takes the upper hand.
Given dry conditions underfoot the Australian backs could cause problems with the likes of Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua all posing significant threats behind the scrum. For them to show off their dazzling attacking prowess will however depend largely on the platform laid by the Australian pack.
The scrum is likely to be vigilantly policed in Auckland following murmurs of illegal binding and upward driving from the Australians in Sydney.
Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles and Owen Franks will have a point to prove at Eden Park and will want to send out a clear signal that the All Black scrum can hold its own ahead of tougher challenges against the ‘Boks and Argentina in coming weeks.
The match is crucial to both side’s hopes of winning the Rugby Championship following South Africa’s win over the Pumas in the first round in Pretoria.
We’re set for a real contest at Eden Park this Saturday, a contest that will reveal plenty about both sides leading up to the World Cup next year.