Wed 14 Sep 2022 | 09:10

Australia v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction

Australia v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction
Wed 14 Sep 2022 | 09:10
Australia v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction
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RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND FIVE: James Slipper admits he’s been surprised by the All Blacks’ faltering form but the Wallabies skipper expects them to be at their bruising best for the Bledisloe Cup clash in Melbourne on Thursday.

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New Zealand have lost four of their seven Tests in 2022 but, having never lifted aloft the prized trophy during his 121-Test career, Slipper is adamant there’s never an easy time to face Australia’s trans-Tasman foes.

With New Zealand the holders, Australia must win both Bledisloe Cup Tests – with the second at Auckland’s Eden Park on September 24 – to secure the trophy.

“I’ve heard that commentary a fair bit but history tells us they’re a pretty hard team to beat,” said Slipper, who will again lead the Wallabies at a sold-out Docklands Stadium with Michael Hooper still on personal leave.

“They’ve had the wood on us for 20 years so us as a playing group, we understand what’s coming and it’s going to be a hard task to win the Bledisloe and it starts tomorrow here.”

Asked if he had been surprised by the All Blacks’ inconsistent results – like the Wallabies they’ve failed to string wins together this year, suffering two defeats to Ireland and one each to South Africa and Argentina – Slipper said he was.

“Yes, they’re a good team, a big rugby nation and there’s a lot of pressure on their outcome,” he said.

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“They’re a team that has a whole country behind them who wants to see them win.

“But I think in terms of world rugby there’s been a closing of the gap between Southern and Northern Hemisphere teams.”

While 33-year-old Slipper remembers the Wallabies’ last Bledisloe series triumph back in 2002, there are some in the playing group who were still in nappies.

The prop said the young players at least carried no scars of years of defeat.

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“They haven’t gone through the last 10 or 15 years of playing the All Blacks … they’re just excited to get out there as most of them haven’t really played the All Blacks consistently,” Slipper said.

“In my career we’ve managed to win a few dead rubbers, the third games, but with just two games this year we’ve got to make sure every game counts and we start well.”

Playmaker Bernard Foley, 32, will start in his first Test in three years after rejoining the squad and Slipper said it was good to have another old head around.

“Bernard has come in really well and he’s really been a big voice in our in our group this week.

“He brings that experience and that composure at the big moments and he’s fit in really well.”

All Blacks skipper Sam Cane said they were proud of the performance in their last Rugby Championship outing – a 50-point victory over Argentina which sent them to the top of the standings.

But they needed to show their progress by backing it up, with a mostly unchanged side with expectant father, star No.8 Ardie Savea the biggest omission.

“It’s certainly time to back it up as we haven’t been pleased with our inconsistency this year,” Cane said on Wednesday.

“It’s only one performance so there’s huge desire and hunger to want to put out another one.”

The flank said his team were also driven by the fear of being the first All Blacks outfit in 20 years to surrender the Cup.

“Winning and losing are strong motivators in different ways … there’s a fear of losing it, the pressure, but you look at that in a positive spin too.

“It’s something that motivates us to make sure it’s not on our watch.”

TRC standings after R5

Players to watch

For Australia: All eyes will be on veteran flyhalf Bernard Foley. He will be making his first Test appearance since 2019 and he has an important job in trying to give his team some direction against a strong All Blacks outfit. Scrumhalf Jake Gordan will also have some pressure directed his way, but he can be a wily customer, especially around the fringers. No.7 Pete Samu knows some of the All Blacks players well from his time with the Crusaders. He is an abrasive customer and someone who can get his team over the gain line. The Wallabies will also have some firepower off the bench in the form of the versatile Jordan Petaia. He can cover a number of positions and he is exciting with ball in hand.

For New Zealand: Hoskins Sotutu gets a big opportunity in the No.8 jersey in the absence of Ardie Savea. Sotutu is a star at Super Rugby level and All Blacks fans will be hoping he can bring that form over to Test level. Captain Sam Cane has endured a ton of criticism this year, but he produced one of his best performances in that 53-3 win over Argentina in Hamilton. The key for him is to build on that performance in Melbourne. At the back, Will Jordan is one of the most exciting players in the world right now, but he will need more ball to work with against the Wallabies, He will also have the tough job of marking Marika Koroibete. The midfield battle will also be an intriguing one with Rieko Ioane really making that No.13 jersey his own.

Head to head

New Zealand have won 16 of their last 20 Test matches against Australia (D1 L3), including their last three on the bounce; their 16 wins in that time have come by an average margin of 24 points per game.

Australia have won three of their last six Test matches against New Zealand on home turf, which is more than they had won in their 13 home Tests against the All Blacks previously (W2 D2 L9); though, they’ll be out to avoid back-to-back defeats in such fixtures for the first time since August 2017.

Australia have won the opening game of the Bledisloe Cup only twice in the last 13 years, however, they’ve picked up a win and a draw across the last three years in such fixtures, including a 47-26 win when they last hosted the opening game of the Cup.

Wallabies v NZ head to head 2022

Last 10 encounters:

2021: New Zealand won 38-21, Perth
2021: New Zealand won 57-22, Auckland
2021: New Zealand won 33-25, Auckland
2020: Australia won 24-22, Brisbane
2020: New Zealand won 43-5, Sydney
2020: New Zealand won 27-7, Auckland
2020: 16-16 draw, Wellington
2019: New Zealand won 36-0, Auckland
2019: Australia won 47-29, Perth
2018: New Zealand won 37-20, Yokohama

Prediction

@rugby365com: New Zealand by seven points.

Teams:

Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Nic White, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Date: Thursday, September 15
Venue: Docklands Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.45 (21.45 NZ time; 09.45 GMT)
Expected weather: There will be scattered thunders storm with a high of 18°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: Matthieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

@rugby365com

* Additional reporting by AAP & stats provided by Opta Data

PV: 4
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