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Australia vs New Zealand
The Rugby Championship, 19 August, 2017
|Fulltime - Australia 34, New Zealand 54|
|Referee: Wayne Barnes|
|Touch judges: Nigel Owens & Andy Brace|
|TMO: Rowan Kitt|
The All Blacks have kicked off their Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship defence with a resounding offensive display, piling on 54 points against a hapless Wallabies defence.
All the wash-up from Wallabies vs All Blacks Bledisloe 1:
» QUIGLEY: Bledisloe a damning indictment
» LORD: Rugby is an 80-minute game
» Match report: All Blacks wallop Wallabies
» What changes should Australia make for Bledisloe 2?
» Vote in our DIY Wallabies player ratings
» WATCH: Highlights from Bledisloe 1
» WATCH: Michael Cheika’s post game comments
All Blacks 54
The Wallabies are hoping to shake a five-game losing streak against the All Blacks when they host the opening Bledisloe Cup game to kick off the 2017 Rugby Championship. Catch all the live scores, highlights and blog on The Roar from 8pm (AEST).
The Wallabies have won just a single game from their last 16 fixtures against their Trans-Tasman rivals, dating back to the 2011 Tri-Nations series.
The All Blacks have won 14 series in a row now in one of the most dominant streaks in sporting history.
The Wallabies, while Australian rugby is in the midst of a messy battle of Super Rugby sides, are fresh off a shaky June international window.
A 23-point win over Fiji was a confidence-boosting start to the campaign, but they quickly began to tumble downhill with a scrappy and demoralising 19-24 loss at the hands of modern rivals, Scotland.
The Wallabies had a chance to recapture form leading into the current series, but a less than convincing performance against Italy only fueled the fire of Australia’s rugby woes.
For the All Blacks, a monster 78-0 thumping of Samoa was the perfect lead up to the famed British and Irish Lions tour in June and July.
An incredibly tense series followed with a fired up Lions side stunning the home side with a drawn series thanks to an incredible 15-all tie in the third Test.
The defeat and draw in the last two games of the series leaves New Zealand winless across consecutive games for the first time in six years.
Australia will have to repeat history that hasn’t been seen in nearly two decades to make it three non-wins in a row.
While Australia’s off-field and administrative dramas have been a coming in thick and fast, New Zealand have been no stranger to issues off the park in recent weeks as well.
Halfback Aaron Smith’s past has come back up to haunt his preparations, as well as veteran Jerome Kaino who was sent home the morning of Game 1 thanks to an affair scandal, being ruled out of the game.
Since the 2015 Rugby Championship, the last time the Aussies toppled the men in black, New Zealand have won the World Cup, the last two Super Rugby titles and recaptured the Championship.
Coach Michael Cheika has made a few notable alterations to his side following the undulating results of the June internationals.
Most notably, Kurtley Beale returns to the Wallabies line up for the first time since the World Cup final in 2015, recovering from hamstring troubles that left him out of the side earlier in the year.
He will line up at inside centre alongside Foley in the halves and Samu Kerevi wearing the 13 jersey.
One surprise in the backline is the inclusion of rugby league convert Curtis Rona who will make his Wallaby debut out on the wing.
In the scrum, Ned Hanigan will lock into the back three alongside team mate and new skipper Michael Hooper, as well as the soon to be departed Sean McMahon at No. 8 before his venture to Japanese rugby.
Retiring veteran Stephen Moore has held onto his starting spot at hooker.
For the kiwis, 22-year-old Damian McKenzie has been rewarded for back to back outstanding Super Rugby seasons with the starting fullback role after being left out of the entire Lions series. It will be just his third Test for the All Blacks.
McKenzie replaces an injured Jordie Barrett, with Ben Smith being shifted to the wing.
Halves pairing Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett are the only two to remain in the backline from the third Test against the Lions.
As well as the aforementioned McKenzie and Ben Smith moves, coach Steve Hansen has named Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty at inside and outside centre respectively.
Rieko Ioane takes flight on the opposite wing to Smith in his sixth Test in black.
Nothing too dramatic to speak of in the scrum with a very strong New Zealand pack shaping up.
However, Jerome Kaino has sensationally been sent home following an alleged affair scandal, ruling him out of the contest.
As obvious as it sounds, this opening game is massively crucial, it’s a must win for the Wallabies because they have all but no chance of winning Game 2 in Dunedin.
They’re coming off a very nervy June campaign, coming up against an All Blacks side fired up from an immense series against the Lions.
I don’t think it will be the kind of blowout from Game 1 of last year in Sydney, but the All Blacks should get the job done tonight without too much trouble.
New Zealand to win by 19