Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe Cup first Test preview and prediction

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    Will it be another Bledisloe Cup victory to the all-conquering All Blacks – or are the Wallabies about to experience a sudden form reversal, and knock off the best nation in the world?

    » Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe Cup live scores, blog

    Let’s be honest – it’s probably going to be the former. Almost certainly. If it’s the latter, we will all have our jaws hanging open at 10 o’clock tonight.

    The simple facts are that New Zealand haven’t lost their grip on the Bledisloe Cup for thirteen years now, and Australia have won just six Bledisloe Tests against the Kiwis in that time.

    New Zealand have won the last five meetings in a row between the two nations, including four Bledisloe Tests and the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

    That doesn’t mean Australia can’t pinch the odd Test against the All Blacks here and there – and here, at ANZ Stadium, is the most likely place for it to happen.

    Of the six Bledisloe Tests the Wallabies have won since they last held the cup, three of them have come at this ground, including the most recent one.

    But still to pull that off, the Wallabies will have to see a significant reversal of their recent form, both at club level and as a national team.

    In their three June Tests, the Wallabies recorded passable but uninspiring wins over Fiji and Italy, and a disappointing loss to Scotland.

    More concerningly, in the 2017 Super Rugby season, Australian sides played against New Zealand sides twenty six times, and the final record was… 0-26 in favour of New Zealand.

    What about the All Blacks? Well, after a tied series with the British and Irish Lions, they look probably as vulnerable as they have in recent years – which isn’t very much.

    They defeated the Lions 30-15 in the first Test, but then lost the second 21-24 and drew the final match 15-all.

    It wasn’t technically two losses in a row, but it was the first time the All Blacks have had two consecutive non-win results since… scrolling, scrolling… they lost to the Springboks and Wallabies back-to-back in 2011.

    They haven’t played three Tests without winning at least one of them since 1998. The odds don’t bode well for the Wallabies.

    If there had been something dramatic that happened to reverse the respective fortunes of either team in recent weeks, perhaps we could make an argument for the Wallabies’ chances of an upset.

    But all that could qualify is the ARU’s decision to axe the Western Force, which you’d think is more likely to be a distraction than a boost.

    In the end, perhaps all Australian rugby fans can hope for is another unexpected twist in the tale, one which will see the come from nowhere to claim victory.

    Israel Dagg All Blacks New Zealand Test Rugby Union Rugby Championship 2016

    (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

    Key information

    Kick-off: 8pm (AEST), Saturday August 19
    Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
    TV: Live, Fox Sports 501, Network Ten
    Online: Live, Foxtel Now, Foxtel App, Tenplay
    Betting: All Blacks $1.05, Wallabies $9
    Head-to-head: All Blacks 127, Wallabies 48, seven draws
    Last five: All Blacks 5-0 Wallabies

    Squads

    Wallabies
    1. Scott Sio, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Sean McMahon, 9. Will Genia, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Curtis Rona, 12. Kurtley Beale, 13. Samu Kerevi, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Israel Folau, 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Tom Robertson, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Lopeti Timani, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Reece Hodge, 23. Tevita Kuridrani

    All Blacks
    1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Liam Squire, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Kieran Read (c), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Ryan Crotty, 14. Ben Smith, 15. Damian McKenzie, 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19. Luke Romano, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Lima Sopoaga, 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

    Prediction

    We’d all love to be optimistic about the Wallabies, probably even New Zealand fans, who must almost be approaching getting sick of winning by this point. There’s not much reason to be right now, but perhaps they can give us some tonight, even if they fall well short of an actual victory.

    All Blacks by 15 points

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