Bledisloe Cup – Wallabies vs All Blacks: Live score updates, blog
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The Wallabies couldn't keep up with the All Blacks in their 27-19 loss on Saturday (AAP Image/Paul Miller).
The All Blacks invade Suncorp Stadium tonight as they take on the Wallabies in the final Bledisloe Cup match of 2012. Join us from 9.00pm AEDT for live scores and commentary.
The New Zealanders come into this game white hot while the Australians have been limping from punch-up to punch-up, their injured casualties piling up like regrets in a young man’s life.
With the big silver thing already back in New Zealand for another year, the Wallabies will only be seeking redemption while the Kiwis look to make a masterpiece of their domestic season.
Despite the citizenship of the Cup it’s never a dead rubber between these two great nations. The first Bledisloe Cup was played out in the midst of the Great Depression 1931, with the All Blacks winning 20-13. In an ominous twist, if you average out all the historical Bledisloe Cup results, the score becomes 20-14, again to the New Zealanders.
Despite their injuries the Wallabies surely increase their odds playing at Suncorp Stadium, where they’ve won 15 of their last 17 tests. Included in this string of victories was the epic 25-20 defeat of the New Zealanders last year which sealed the Tri Nations for the Wallabies. This was also the last time the All Blacks found themselves on the wrong side of winning.
Equally telling is the fact that Suncorp Stadium was the scene for the 2011 Super Rugby final which saw the Queensland Reds knock off the nomadic Crusaders.
There’s a certain kind of energy the fans put out in this corner of the world, and no doubt the Wallabies will need help as the All Blacks put everything on the line – every time they run out.
If the All Blacks do manage to notch their 18th win in a row, they will surpass the major rugby nation record of 17, a feat first achieved by the All Blacks in the 60s and Springboks in the late 90s.
And if they didn’t already have enough to play for, the passing of coach Steve Hanson’s father will no doubt bring an edge of emotion for the New Zealanders.
Hansen spent most of last week in New Zealand to be with his family, during which time assistant coach Ian Foster took the reins of the black chariot.
The team line-up looks pretty familiar for the All Blacks; as it has all year. Mealamu gets a start for his 100th test and the only other change to the starting team from Soweto is the promotion of prop Faumuina in place of the out-of-form Owen Franks.
Interestingly, Hosea Gear is rewarded for sticking with the New Zealand Rugby Union this year after being given another start ahead of Julian Savea. Piri Weepu sits on the bench again and would want to contribute if he has aspirations to wear the black jersey next season.
The Wallabies’ musical chairs continued this week after another two victims fell off the wagon during training. Ben Alexander and Saia Fainga’a are both out with wrist injuries.
Workcover may well be investigating the ARU; such is the rate of injury in the payroll.
James Slipper takes Ben Alexander’s chair while debutant James Hanson joins the 22. Digby Ioane is out with a knee injury however the return of Adam Ashley Cooper and Wycliff Palu is a massive boost for the home team.
Another interesting change is the return of Mr Breakable Drew Mitchell who will sit nervously on the bench, hoping to make it through unscathed.
No doubt the man will be covered head to toe in elastoplast; with his almost permanent run of severe injury and rehabilitation he’d have to be both the unluckiest player in modern footy, and also the most dedicated. It will be a great thing for rugby fans on both sides to see him out on the paddock.
Amoung the players to watch for tonight’s game will be centre Ben Tapuai; as a kid he took James O’Conner’s position in the Australian Schoolboys team.
Nathan Sharpe should have a massive game, being his last game in Australia; assuming he stays retired this time.
The highlight is likely to be Kurtley Beale’s face-off with Dan Carter. It’s been a while since Carter had a worthy opponent in the opposite corner, and Beale has the spark to match it with the best fly half the world has ever seen.
While there’s plenty for the All Blacks to play for, the Australians and their coaching staff are short-stacked and all-in. Expect them to throw the kitchen sink.
Join us at 9.00pm AEDT tonight on The Roar, the place to be for the live scores and where you can have your say on the go.
Preview written by Phil Bird.
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