Bledisloe Cup 2013: Last-Minute Prediction for New Zealand vs. Australia Game 2
With the chance to seal an 11th consecutive Bledisloe Cup this Saturday, New Zealand returned to their native Wellington this week looking to further cement their dominance over the Wallabies.
For the last decade, the All Blacks have proven themselves to be superior in the best-of-three series, with last weekend’s 47-29 victory just the latest proof.
Steve Hansen’s men are massive favourites to again claim the Southern Hemisphere's prized trophy, and the first game gave us a good idea as to how that might come about.
Where: WestPac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
When: Saturday Aug. 24 at 19:35 p.m.NZST/08:35 a.m.BST/03:35 a.m. ET
Watch: Sky Sports (UK), Fox Sports (AUS)
Live Stream: SkyGo (Subscription required)
All Blacks’ Midfield Maintains Control
New Zealand are renowned as one of, if not the highest-pressing international side in the sport, a dimension of their play that stood out at the ANZ Stadium last week.
Breaking up play up in the enemy half is a huge aspect of how Hansen’s side operates, proceeding to counter the opposition with their physically impressive backs with ferocious defense.
Can the Wallabies cope any better with New Zealand's high octane tempo this Saturday?
Last week, tries from Ben Smith and Aaron Cruden were fine examples of how this style can result in points and there’s no side in the world who can replicate such a dimension with the same consistency as New Zealand.
This week, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith will continue to play a pivotal role in how the All Blacks go about their business, translating seamlessly from defence to offence in a matter of seconds.
With Christian Lealiifano and Adam Ashley-Cooper on the back-foot as a result of New Zealand's pressing defense, the midfield will once again be a particularly fruitful hunting ground for this Saturday’s hosts.
Taylor To Emerge As Victor In Fly-Half Struggle
It’s a terrific occasion for any player, young or old, to make their first appearance as an All Black. Steve Hansen's decision to select Tom Taylor in a match that could well decide this year’s Bledisloe Cup clearly is a sign of faith in the 24-year-old
In fact, there's an excited vibe running through the New Zealand camp about Taylor's involvement, as Greg Clark showed over Twitter:
The young Crusader will take up arms opposite Matt Toomua, whose own Test bow last weekend didn’t go quite according to plan, summed up by the Brumbies’ star’s hilarious falcon.
In Toomua, Australia have a secure no.10, but one who may not pull out the same snippets of ingenuity that Quade Cooper is capable of.
Taylor will be asked to provide an effective link at fly-half and develop a fluid partnership with Aaron Smith.
Averaging more than 12 points per game in his Super Rugby career thus far, it may be up to Taylor to lead with the boot as well as in link-up play.
Wallabies Back-Three Anguish Goes On
Game one of this year’s Bledisloe Cup was a match to forget for the Australian back three of Jesse Mogg, James O’Connor and Israel Folau, all of whom start again on Saturday.
Defensively, the trio were simply absent, unable to stop the likes of Ben and Conrad Smith, Nonu and Dagg from breezing through their line.
O’Connor’s lack of positioning on the wing was painfully evident in Ben Smith’s first score and Mogg in particular looked poor when called upon to tackle, swiftly hauled off in place of Tevita Kuridrani early in the second period.
Going forward, Australia’s backs were not that much better, relying too much on the individual bursts of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia for their breaks.
The team may be starting a new era under Ewen McKenzie, but it was the basics that weren’t going in the favour of the Wallabies back three, and it may not change in time for this weekend.
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