With the All Blacks successfully beating the Wallabies 27-18 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, tomorrow's match at Eden Park will be do-or-die for the Wallabies.
The All Blacks already have one hand on the coveted Bledisloe Cup. If the All Blacks are triumphant against the Wallabies, it will be the 10th consecutive year the All Blacks have the Bledisloe in their trophy cabinet.
Game One at ANZ Stadium showed that the two sides were a bit rusty in terms of their attacks, with lots of handling errors marring the game. But, the brilliance of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg were enough to put the All Blacks over the line.
Previewing the second game looks a bit more easy than the first. The Wallabies have named their starting XV.
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Rob Horne, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Nathan Sharpe, Sitaleki Timani, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Saia Faingaa, Anthony Faingaa, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, James Slipper, Radike Samo, Liam Gill.
The big news is that stand-in Wallabies captain David Pocock will be out due to knee surgery. His replacement will be Brumbies flanker Michael Hooper. Quade Cooper who was omitted from the squad last year makes his return at flyhalf with Berrick Barnes being shifted to inside centre. This results in Anthony Faingaa being relegated to the bench.
Kurtley Beale, who had a shocker last week, is also relegated to the bench with winger Drew Mitchell replacing him. Hooker Stephen Moore replaces Tatafu Polota-Nau who is battling injury. Sekope Kepu drops out of the 22 altogether with Ben Alexander promoted to the starting tighthead spot. Saia Faingaa comes onto the bench as the reserve hooker. There will be a chance that young Queensland flanker Liam Gill will make his debut off the bench. Reserve lock Rob Simmons drops out of the 22.
This side is admittedly better than the side that lost last week. Cooper has the ability to be a game changer and will be key to this Wallabies side. After having a shocker against the All Blacks at last year's World Cup, Cooper will be trying to make amends. His passing and kicking will have to be on target, and his defense will be targeted by the potent All Blacks back-line.
New Zealand has also announced their line up.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden, Ben Smith.
One change has been made to this line-up with Wyatt Crockett coming in for the injured Tony Woodcock.
Nothing needs to be said of this All Blacks side, who are currently the best side in the world. Their scrum dominates other forward packs, their work at the break-downs is world class and their back-line can all create opportunities for the team.
In all honesty, I can't see the Wallabies beating the mighty All Blacks. With Pocock out, the breakdown advantage goes to the All Blacks. Hooper and Gill will do a commendable job but their inexperience in international play will prove to be their undoing. Beale being prematurely dropped after one game is also a question mark as he has been the form player in the Super 15 for the Melbourne Rebels. Coach Robbie Deans' selections also have a lot left to be desired with some seemingly unlikely Waratahs players being chosen ahead of good Queensland Reds players.
The All Blacks have not lost at Eden Park since 1994 and the Wallabies have failed to win in Auckland for 26 years. Expect the men in black to continue their dominance in Auckland and to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
Prediction : All Blacks 35 - 18 Wallabies
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