Wallabies vs All Blacks: Bledisloe Cup live scores, blog
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The New Zealand All Blacks' Jerome Kaino, right, charges into a group of Australian defnders during their Tri-Nations rugby union match at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. New Zealand won the match 23-22. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
After re-capturing the Webb Ellis Trophy at long last, the All Blacks will be out to extend the Wallabies‘ lengthy Bledisloe Cup drought when the two arch-rivals clash in Sydney tonight. We’ll be updating the match throughout from 8.05pm AEST.
It was heralded as a potential Rugby World Cup semi-final of the ages but in truth, the All Blacks’ 20-6 dismantling of the Wallabies last October illustrated just how wide the gulf between the two sides was.
Will we see a reversal in fortunes tonight? It seems unlikely, given the nucleus of the All Blacks squad remain intact, with only Brad Thorn (retired), Jerome Kaino (retired) and Conrad Smith (injured) the only absentees.
Unfortunately for the Wallabies, several key players have been casualties of a Super Rugby season to forget for the Australian sides. Captain James Horwill and playmaker James O’Connor are both major outs for the home side, and the absence of Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman and Pat McCabe certainly won’t help.
A quick glance over the two sides’ 2012 form guides doesn’t do anything to fill Wallabies fans with optimism, either. Robbie Deans’ men were diabolical in a 9-6 loss to Scotland and were at times patchy in their three victories over Wales.
The All Blacks, meanwhile, razed the Irish during their three matches series back in June, racking up 60-0 and 42-10 wins in the process.
So will it simply be a walk in the park for the All Blacks to take a crucial 1-0 advantage before the two sides meet in Auckland next weekend?
It seems unlikely. Bledisloe Cup rugby returns to Sydney after a two-year absence and is almost certain to be filled with a parochial Australian crowd, and the Wallabies’ recent record against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium is reasonable. The last two encounters here have been decided by a point.
Extra-hopeful Wallabies fans could point to the introduction of new coach Steve Hansen, who replaced Graham Henry after last year’s Rugby World Cup triumph, as a possible question mark over the All Blacks, and hint at the slight possibility of complacency creeping in.
All of which is fanciful. This is one of the better All Blacks sides we’ve seen in a while and with a host of key outs for the Wallabies, it would take an upset of major proportions for them to get over the line tonight.
Who takes it? Find out from 8.05pm AEST as we cover the opening match of the newly-introduced Rugby Championship with live scores and commentary. If you’re watching, give us your thoughts in the space below.
More to follow.
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