Palmerbet Sports Team preview the first instalment of the Wallabies’ bid to end 16 years of Bledisloe Cup pain at the hands of the All Blacks as the Rugby Championship gets underway.
19:45 (AEST), Sat 18th Aug @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney
History: Played 161: New Zealand 111 V Australia 43 (7 Draws).
Last meeting: October 27, 2018: Australia 23 d New Zealand 18 at Suncorp Stadium.
Final Thoughts: The Wallabies begin their 2018 Rugby Championship campaign up against their overbearing neighbours, the All Blacks, as they try to find the key to ending a Bledisloe Cup drought dating back to 2002.
Australia are also aiming to bounce back from a 2-1 series loss to Ireland on home soil. They have won just seven of their last 16 Tests.
Australian coach Michael Cheika has named captain Michael Hooper to return from a two-month injury layoff, while Reece Hodge claimed the No.13 jersey and Tatafu Polota-Nau returns from overseas to play hooker. The rest of the starting XV is as expected.
New Zealand comfortably accounted for France 3-0 in a series largely overshadowed by refereeing controversies and have lost just one of their last 14 Tests.
Jack Goodhue’s call-up at centre and Waisake Naholo’s selection from a crowded contingent of wing contenders were the only real talking points of an imposing All Blacks line-up for the Rugby Championship opener. Skipper Kieran Read and the incomparable Brodie Retallick play their first Tests of the year
Australia have won just two of the last 19 trans-Tasman Test matches, but they did end a seven-match losing run against the All Blacks with a gritty and much-deserved 23-18 win in Brisbane in October last year.
That come on the back of losses by scorelines of 54-34 in Sydney (fighting back after the All Blacks had led 54-6) and 35-29 in Dunedin (crumbling after they had led 17-0) to the world champs.
The presence of David Pocock after last year’s sabbatical is crucial to the Wallabies’ hopes.
The last two Bledisloe clashes being decided by six points or less snapped a run of six straight All Blacks win by 17 points or more.
But expect normal transmission to resume with all but one of the All Blacks starting side featuring in the Super Rugby finals compared to just six Wallabies. Too much class, too much firepower.