Wallabies vs. All Blacks: Date, Kick-off Time and Bledisloe Cup 2018 Predictions

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IAugust 17, 2018

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21:  The All Blacks perform the haka before the Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Australia and New Zealand renew their rivalry when the two teams meet in the opening match of the 2018 Rugby Championship at Sydney's ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The match also serves as the first of the 2018 Bledisloe Cup, a three-match series contested between the two nations. The two teams meet again at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on August 25, with the final match taking place at the Nissan Stadium and Yokohama, Japan, on October 27.

Australia have not lifted the trophy since 2002. However, there is reason for optimism, as they beat New Zealand in the third and final Test in 2017. The win ended a seven-match losing streak against the All Blacks.

       

Date: Saturday, August 18

Time: 11:05 a.m. (BST), 6:05 a.m. (ET), 8:05 p.m. (Local)

TV Info: Sky Sports Action (UK)

Live Stream: Sky Go (UK)

        

New Zealand have dominated the Bledisloe Cup for over a decade and will start as clear favourites once again. The All Blacks will also be out to defend their 2017 Rugby Championship. They claimed the title by winning all six of their Tests against Australia, South Africa and Argentina to clinch a perfect campaign.

The defending champions head into the match on a good run of form. They beat France 3-0 in their most recent series, and it looks like it will take something special for them to lose their crown.

The All Blacks have named their 23 for the match:

Head coach Steve Hansen has offered his thoughts on the game, per his team's official website.

"The Bledisloe means a lot to this team and we have the opportunity to show just how much on Saturday night," he said. "As far as we're concerned, neither team currently has possession of the Cup, and if we want it, we've got to front up and take it."

Australia finally tasted victory over their rivals in October in last year's competition. Although the 2017 Bledisloe Cup had already been decided, their 23-18 win at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium should provide confidence.

Another victory on Saturday would offer the Wallabies a real chance of finally getting their hands on the trophy. The decision to move the final game to Japan may also work in the Wallabies' favour.

Australia beat New Zealand 26-24 in 2010 in Hong Kong the last time a Bledisloe game was played on neutral territory.

Captain Michael Hooper has given Australia a boost by being cleared to play after recovering from a hamstring problem, per the New Zealand Herald.

Scrum-half Will Genia said winning the competition would be the "pinnacle" of his career and explained why the Bledisloe Cup has proved so elusive, per Reuters (h/t the Guardian).

He said: "I mean, the World Cup is obviously up there but how often do you get to play the best team in the world three times and have to win two out of three to win a trophy?"

There's a feeling that Australia are a team on the rise, and this match will prove a real indication of how they are shaping up. 

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