Bledisloe Cup 2013 Schedule: Stars Sure to Disappoint in Game 2
As is only to be expected in such a massive encounter between 46 of the best rugby players on the planet, not every Australia and New Zealand player can play the role of the hero in a Bledisloe Cup clash.
In fact, there are often just as many players who can’t help but fail in living up to their expectations in such a high pressure scenario, especially when the result is as one-sided as New Zealand’s 47-29 Game 1 victory in Sydney.
Two 23-man squads will meet once more Saturday in Wellington, New Zealand, in the pursuit of one thing: the 2013 Bledisloe Cup. However, the odds are against several figures coming from both sides of the divide.
Not for a lack of trying, Game 1 in the best-of-three series really didn’t swing in the favour of the Brumbies’ mercurial Christian Lealiifano, despite the Australian utility maintaining his 100 percent Test kicking record, as confirmed by the Wallabies’ official Twitter:
When it came to the running game, Adam Ashley-Cooper looked to be the more successful of the two as Ma’a Nonu simply made life too difficult for his opposite man.
That won’t be end of Lealiifano’s frustrations, though, as the 25-year-old will once again be going up against probably the most fearsome rushing defence in the world.
Unless it’s coming from his boot, Lealiifano hasn’t looked like replicating the form showed during his Super Rugby campaign and parts of the British and Irish Lions’ tour earlier this summer.
Like many front rowers from his part of the world, Andrew Hore will still be adapting to the new scrum rules (as explained by B/R’s Terence O’Rorke), as will Australia’s Stephen Moore.
However, at 34 years of age, the All Blacks veteran is bound to be a little less malleable in getting used to the new rules, although both packs will still be in a state of transition.
It doesn’t help the 2008 New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year that instead of having Keven Mealamu as backup hooker this weekend, Dane Coles has been called up to Steve Hansen’s bench instead.
Unless it’s a genuine issue in need of attention, Hansen may not be as eager to throw Coles on in place of Hore, who could struggle with the new demands of the set piece as the game lingers on.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing players from last weekend’s defeat, Jesse Mogg’s good progress in recent months was put to shame by the defensively liable character that allowed New Zealand’s big guns to slip through his fingers far too often.
Despite being one of the fastest players in Super Rugby, Mogg wasn’t the support that Ashley-Cooper and Co. sorely needed on the night.
Again, the Brumbies full-back will be put under the microscope at the WestPac Stadium this Saturday, with the high boot of Tom Taylor and a strong chase consisting of Israel Dagg, Julian Savea and Ben Smith on the other end.
In truth, the entire experience is tossing the 24-year-old into the deep end considering Mogg had just one senior cap prior to this tournament, but he looks to be out of his depth against the All Blacks nonetheless.
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