Fri 13 Aug 2021 | 09:45

New Zealand v Australia - teams and predictions

New Zealand v Australia - teams and predictions
Fri 13 Aug 2021 | 09:45
New Zealand v Australia - teams and predictions
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RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND ONE: Which All Black side will emerge from the Eden Park locker rooms on Saturday?

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Will it be the imperious New Zealand of recent years, hell-bent on extending their 21-match winning streak over Australia in Auckland?

Or will it be the fumbly, undisciplined team from last week’s Bledisloe Cup opener, which took half an hour to get going?

The answer will decide whether the Wallabies can keep the Trans-Tasman series alive for game three in Perth later this month.

New Zealand’s start to the series was a shocker, including the first four penalties of the game and scrappiness at the breakdown.

Their early blushes were saved by two factors – Australia’s line-out ineptitude and the wind at their backs allowing Richie Mo’unga to launch penalties from near the halfway line.

Those kicks inched the poor All Blacks to a 9-0 lead they wouldn’t give up, but the blunders didn’t go unmissed by Kiwi great John Kirwan.

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Kirwan called it the All Blacks’ “worst 30 minutes in the last five years”.

“Straight into penalties. Straight into handling errors. I’ve never seen them like that,” he said.

It is lost on no one that New Zealand eventually clicked into gear, powering to a 33-25 win.

But the performance gave some credence to Andrew Kellaway’s throwaway jibe earlier this week that the All Blacks “aura has worn off a bit”.

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Kiwi commentators have been wondering similar for some time.

After their inglorious World Cup semifinal exit in 2019, New Zealand has flattered to deceive under new coach Ian Foster.

The maintenance of Bledisloe Cup supremacy last year was simply expected, especially with world No.7 Australia in a rebuilding phase, and the Rugby Championship win was diminished without South Africa.

Captain Sam Whitelock said he was unmoved by media criticism because he didn’t read it.

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He did, however, raise his eyebrows on hearing Kirwan’s assessment.

“Everyone’s allowed their opinion. That’s obviously his,” Whitelock said.

“He’s an ex-player. He knows sometimes what you’re trying to do takes a while to wear teams down.”

Whitelock admitted the first 15 minutes of the Test had been a focus in their Monday review.

“Everyone wants to start well. No one wants to not start well,” he said.

“We’d love to start the Test match at a real high intensity.”

All Blacks apathy might also be setting in among Kiwis.

Ticket sales for the second Bledisloe Test, which is also the Rugby Championship opener, are well short of last week’s sellout.

Eden Park may only be half full.

“Hopefully it’s more full than empty. The support we do have will be nice and loud,” Whitelock said.

Players to watch

For New Zealand: The All Black starting line-up has been tweaked. Rieko Ioane has been moved to the midfield – replacing Anton Lienert-Brown, who took a knock to his knee in last week’s Bledisloe Cup opener at the weekend. Sevu Reece swaps to the left wing, with the high try-scoring Will Jordan coming in on the right after missing the first Test because of injury. Coach Ian Foster has retained the same run-on forward pack, but has made changes on the bench – where Scott Barrett, who was a late withdrawal from the first Test, returns to the pine in place of Patrick Tuipulotu. Thomas Perenara replaces Brad Weber as the replacement scrumhalf.

For Australia: Star wing Marika Koroibete and one-time bad-boy Lachlan Swinton are back in the fold. The 37-Test Koroibete was not considered for the first Test – won 33-25 by the All Blacks – after going on a late-night drinking session and breaching the team curfew. Swinton was red-carded on debut and earned a four-week suspension last year for a high shot on All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock in a Bledisloe Cup Test. Koroibete and Swinton are among four changes to the Wallabies line-up. Matt To’omua is starting at inside centre and in the forwards, Matt Philip was promoted to start at lock and Swinton to replace Harry Wilson in the loose trio. Queensland Reds pair Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Wilson drop back to the bench.

Head to head

New Zealand versus Australia
Recent results

NNew Zealand versus Australia
Prediction

@rugby365com: New Zealand to win by 21 points

Teams

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett.

Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Phillip, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Harry Wilson, 21 Nic White, 22 Len Ikitau, 23 Reece Hodge.

Date: Saturday, August 14
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.05 (17.05 AEST; 07.05 GMT)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy. Possible showers. Southwesterlies, fresh from the afternoon. High of 16°C, low of 9°C
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Mike Fraser
TMO: Glenn Newman

* Additional reporting by @rugby365com & AFP

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