Pile into the ruck with Rugby Union tips for the third 2020 instalment of Bledisloe Cup action as the Wallabies host the All Blacks in Sydney.
19:45 (AEDT), Sat 31st Oct @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney
History: Played 168: New Zealand 116 V Australia 44 (8 Draws)
Last meeting: October 18, 2020: New Zealand 27 d Australia 7 at Eden Park
Final Thoughts: The Wallabies and All Blacks reconvene in Australia for Bledisloe No.3 and the Rugby Championship opener. The green-and-golds’ new era under Kiwi Dave Rennie began with a winless two-Test excursion in New Zealand but whipped up plenty of hope for the future.
Australia, 15.5-point underdogs heading into both matches, pulled off a shock 16-all draw in Wellington. It was a match they could easily have won after fighting back from a halftime deficit. The likes of James O’Connor, Nic White, Harry Wilson and debutant winger Filipo Daugunu were superb.
But after a hard-fought first half in Auckland, the All Blacks powered to a 27-7 win via three unanswered second-half tries. Beauden Barrett’s return at fullback after missing the opener with injury made a huge difference. Giant winger Caleb Clarke has announced himself as world rugby’s newest superstar. The ABs’ forwards – well-matched in Wellington – were relentless and dynamic.
The Wallabies have been hit with a backline injury crisis. O’Connor and inside centre Matt To’omua have been ruled out, pitching debutants Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone into the starting side. Meanwhile, the experienced Dane Haylett-Petty has been promoted to fullback.
The All Blacks have named an unchanged backline. In the forwards, Hoskins Sotutu makes his first Test start for Ardie Savea (paternity leave) and Sam Whitelock returns from injury. Dalton Papalii and Ngani Laumape join the bench.
All Blacks find groove in Sydney
The Wallabies have won just three of their last 26 Tests against the All Blacks overall. But they have won two of the last three on Australian soil – a 23-18 victory in Brisbane in 2017 and a stunning 47-26 result in Perth last year.
The overall record at ANZ Stadium is tighter than most: New Zealand have won 10 Tests to Australia’s seven, with one drawn. But the All Blacks have won the last three at the ground by 20-plus margins, scoring 38 points or more.
The last three Bledisloe encounters – producing totals of 36 or less – were lower scoring than all of the previous 15.
But the Wallabies have their backs against the wall with newcomers in key positions. The All Blacks were magnificent in defence last time out and appear set to turn the heat up on the hosts on both sides of the ball in Sydney.