New Zealand v Australia in Melbourne (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
Venue: Etihad Stadium (Docklands Stadium), Melbourne
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
The media talk throughout the week has focused on the playing styles of both sides. They have been successful against South Africa playing an expansive game, moving the much feared South African pack around the field, playing wide, scoring tries. How will this tactic stand up when both sides play the same way?
When I look at the team lists I see a number of players new to test rugby. Horne, Ma'afu, the Faingaa brothers, Slipper, Simmons and Hodgson for Australia; Whitelock, Vito, Cruden and Dagg for New Zealand. The difference is that New Zealand's inexperience is limited to the bench whereas Australia has a number of new faces in their starting lineup as well.
New Zealand now has eleven wins in a row since losing to South Africa last September. The Kiwis will want to win this test match and take a firm grip upon the Tri Nations Trophy. With two wins from two they are in a good position. Australia has lost three. A plus for Australia is that they have won the last two games against the All Blacks in Melbourne.
It will be a close encounter. Australia will be desperate to end their poor run against the All Blacks. New Zealand will want to continue a smooth buildup to their World Cup campaign. It'll be a cracker!
Last Five Encounters
31.10.2009 New Zealand 32-19 in Tokyo (Bledisloe Cup)
19.09.2009 New Zealand 33-6 in Wellington (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
22.08.2009 New Zealand 19-18 in Sydney (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
18.08.2009 New Zealand 22-16 in Auckland (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
01.11.2008 New Zealand 19-14 in Hong Kong (Bledisloe Cup)
Australia last defeated New Zealand in July 2008, when they won 34-19 in Sydney. New Zealand has won the last 7 tests played. Australia has lost three in that time. New Zealand has won the last seven in a row against Australia
Previous Encounters in Melbourne
30.06.2007 Australia 20-15 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
11.07.1998 Australia 24-16 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
26.07.1997 New Zealand 33-18 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
Melbourne has been a happy hunting ground for Australia.
Milestones: Joe Rokocoko will become New Zealand's most capped test winger. His 64th test will see him overtake greats John Kirwan and Jonah Lomu.
Eyes will be on the illusive Rokococo who becomes New Zealand's most capped winger. Image thanks to skysports.com
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 1st, Australia 2nd
IRB Rankings-New Zealand 1st (92.74), Australia 3rd (86.06)
Prediction: New Zealand by 7 points
15 Adam Ashley Cooper, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Robert Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matthew Giteau, 9 William Genia, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, Capt. 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slipper, 18 Robert Simmons, 19 Matthew Hodgson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Anthony Faingaa, 22 Kurtley Beale.
Head Coach: Robbie Deans
15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Joseph Rokocoko, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 James Cowan, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richard McCaw,Capt. 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Thomas Donnelly, 4 Bradley Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
16 Corey Flynn, 17 Benjamin Franks, 18 Samuel Whitelock, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Israel Dagg.
Head Coach: Graham Henry