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Australia – New Zealand

Wallabies All Blacks Rugby Championship preview and prediction

Australia will host New Zealand on Saturday in Round 3 (the final one) of the shortened 2019 Rugby Championship, with the match also counting for Test One out of Two of the 2019 Bledisloe Cup.

An Australian win would see the Wallabies finish first (unlikely) or second, while New Zealand will need to better South Africa’s result in Argentina if they are to win the title. A bonus point victory by 20 points or so would put them in a decent position.

Australia is coming after a 16-10 home win against Argentina in the previous round two weeks ago. The performance was far from impressive, but it was a welcome and much needed result for a team which is currently struggling. The Aussies have been far from their best lately, they are missing key players and facing internal problems. In the first round of the Rugby Championship they got pummeled 17-35 by a weakened South Africa side, so the win over Argentina was imperative.

The All Blacks have not been quite at their best in this Rugby Championship, and particularly on the offensive end they were not themselves in the first two rounds. They started off with a hard fought 20-16 win in Argentina and were denied by a last second try in the previous round, at home, against South Africa (16-16). Clearly New Zealand has taken its foot of the gas a bit with the World Cup being played later this year, but they will surely be “desperate and hungry” (coach Hansen’s words) for a win against their rivals here – especially as their backs are against the wall as far as the Rugby Championship title is concerned.

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Team news & lineups:

Australia will continue to miss a few key players like Pocock and Folau, and quite honestly this will not exactly be their best lineup. The All Blacks will not make many changes to the team they fielded two weeks ago against South Africa, but the changes made are positive. This might be the strongest starting XV they have used in this tournament, even if Retallick got injured and is a huge loss.

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody

New Zealand has been all over Australia in recent years, winning 10 of the last 11 games and handing the Wallabies spanking after spanking no matter how well Australia was playing, or what lead they had. Nine of these ten wins came by 17 or more points! Last year the All Blacks won 3 meetings out of 3 by an average margin of 23.33 points. Australia only competed twice in this timespan, a late 6 point defeat in New Zealand in 2017 (a terrific match) and a 5 point home win in a meaningless Bledisloe Cup dead rubber, also in 2017.

There isn`t much reason for optimism for the Wallabies coming into this clash. They are not in good form, that`s for sure, and their lineup doesn`t look that great (O’Connor at 13 is a big risk). It`s actually fair to say that they are missing / resting more players than New Zealand – that can`t be a good omen.

The All Blacks will field a strong lineup for this one, so this, along with coach Hansen’s pre match statements, suggests they will treat this game with utmost focus and motivation. They absolutely need a big win if they are to win the 2019 Rugby Championship, and they will surely go for it.

Surely the visitors are also a bit concerned with their below-par offensive display in the recent tests, so they will be looking to run the ball more and definitely focused more on offensive sets in training.

Weather is expected to be perfect for rugby on Saturday, so that will be good news for the All Blacks with their expansive style of play.

Even if the All Blacks are not at their best, they should be able to run past Australia here considering the hosts are even farther from their best, and considering how badly New Zealand has beaten Australia time and time again in recent past. The matchup is not favorable for Australia, and their confidence can`t possibly be very high coming into the game.

New Zealand needs a big win and they can get it against a sub par Wallabies team. They have not been phased at all by playing in Australia in the last few years, so home court advantage shouldn`t count that much.

My tip will be New Zealand to cover the 12,5 point handicap. They did it without any problems in 9 of the last 11 meetings. Odds on the bet are dropping, which is not a surprise, and the line might start moving towards 13,5 points. Prediction: Australia – New Zealand 16 – 35.

Pick: New Zealand -12,5
Odds: 1.91 @ William Hill
Stake: 9
Possible profit: 8.19
Event date: 10 August

About Rostick

Former bookie & water polo player. Rugby Union expert. - EDITOR INFO & STATS
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