Back New Zealand All Blacks to cover the handicap against Australia in the Bledisloe Cup
October 19, 2016
Recommended bet: New Zealand – 22.5pts Handicap @ 9/10 (1.90) with Centrebet
With the All Blacks having strolled to the Rugby Championship with a perfect record of six wins from six, including doing the double over the Wallabies of course, the three-match format of the Bledisloe Cup officially makes this game a ‘dead rubber’.
In reality, no sporting encounter between New Zealand and Australia can ever be considered meaningless and there is certainly plenty to play for at Eden Park on Saturday.
For the All Blacks the motivation is clear, with a win taking them to a record 18 consecutive Test victories. It would also see them extend their record to 44 straight home wins and it would be a 35th consecutive victory at Eden Park. Those factors are reason enough for the Wallabies to want to spoil the party and they have history of doing so previously.
The two meetings in the Rugby Championship both ended in convincing wins for New Zealand – 42-8 at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney and 29-9 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington over the course of a week in late August. To emphasise the All Blacks dominance, they also outscored the Wallabies by 10 tries to one over the two Tests.
There’s mixed team news for the Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, with Stade Francais scrum-half Will Genia absent as a result of the match falling outside the international window for selecting overseas-based players, although there is a possibility that David Pocock (broken hand) and Sean McMahon (ankle) could both be back in action.
The biggest selection question for the All Blacks surrounds halfback Aaron Smith following his well-publicised, erm, liaison with a woman in a toilet cubicle at Christchurch airport a few weeks back. It appears likely that head coach Steve Hansen could name him in the squad, but not the team.
The concern for Australia is that whilst they were unconvincing in beating an injury-hit Argentina 33-21 at Twickenham a fortnight ago, the All Blacks were destroying South Africa 57-15 in their own backyard. A week earlier the Wallabies were losing 18-10 to the Springboks.
The gulf between New Zealand and the rest in world rugby looks bigger than ever at present and they look capable of covering the 22.5 point handicap here.