Australia and New Zealand meet in the first test of the 2019 Bledisloe Cup in Perth on Saturday. Neither the Wallabies nor the All Blacks can afford to rest players, even with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon in September.
New Zealand have been inconsistent as an attacking force during recent matches against Argentina and South Africa. Something has to give, though, because Australia proved vulnerable defensively against the same opposition.
Date: Saturday, August 10
Time: 5:45 p.m. AWST, 10:45 a.m. BST, 5:45 a.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports Action
Live Stream: Sky Go
Wallabies to Score Fewer than 20 Points Again
The Wallabies have looked anything but dominant during The Rugby Championship. South Africa brushed them aside 35-17 at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg in July.
Australia were too predictable in attack, according to the Guardian's Bret Harris, who bemoaned the "one simple tactic: give the ball to inside-centre Samu Kerevi."
Harris also feels the Wallabies lack a natural creative force, an absence wasting the industry of fullback Tom Banks and winger Dane Haylett-Petty.
The Wallabies need to find fresh inspiration going forward. Another former captain, Andrew Slack, believes the solution is to play Christian Lealiifano as a No. 10, per Melissa Woods of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Slack thinks Lealiifano is in superior form than Bernard Foley after he starred recently during an otherwise unconvincing 16-10 win over Argentina at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Even so, there are too many question marks about what the Wallabies have to offer to believe they can turn on the style against the All Blacks. It all adds up to Australia being held to under 20 points for the third match in a row.
All Blacks Will Click in Attack
Australia aren't alone in struggling going forward; the All Blacks have also come in for criticism for what they have been producing in attacking areas.
New Zealand warmed up for this match by edging past Argentina 20-16 and being held 16-16 by South Africa in Wellington. Former captain Justin Marshall wasn't impressed by what he saw.
He lamented Beauden Barrett's deployment at fullback and Richie Mo'unga's selection at No. 10. Marshall said, "I wouldn't say it was unsuccessful, but I wouldn't say it was a raging success" on an edition of the Fox Rugby Podcast (h/t Christy Doran of Fox Sports).
Whoever gets the nod needs to give the gifted and enterprising Barrett better support.
Ultimate Rugby @ultimaterugby
The last time New Zealand faced Australia in the Rugby Championship, Beauden Barrett produced an absolute masterclass 🙌🔥 4⃣ Tries 🏉 5⃣ Conversions 2⃣ Clean Breaks 💨 7⃣ Defenders Beaten 🔥 🔟 Kicks from hand 👟 8⃣3⃣ Kick success 📊 1⃣4⃣5⃣ Running Metres 🏃♂️ https://t.co/KwBJxH5osk
Mo'unga may have failed to impress recently, but he's still a capable ball player who can combine with Barrett enough to put the All Blacks in control early.
Prediction: Wallabies 10-24 All Blacks