The Bledisloe Cup heads to Japan with Game 3 to be played at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama on Saturday afternoon. It’s just the second time in history that the Wallabies and All Blacks will clash in Japan. The first taking place in 2009 as New Zealand won 32-19. Game 3 this year will be another dead rubber in terms of the Cup as the All Blacks have recorded 2 dominant victories. At ANZ Stadium in game 1, the test match was blown apart by New Zealand in the second half as they outscored Australia 33-7 in a commanding 38-13 victory. Game 2 was a similar story with a 14-7 scoreline at half-time, the All Blacks were again unstoppable in the second half with a 26-5 run. Beauden Barrett had an absolute day-out with 4 tries as the All Blacks crushed the Wallabies 40-12. As a result, the All Blacks are warm favourites for game 3 and for good reason.
The Wallabies have played 4 recent test matches since facing the All Blacks and the results are inconsistent. They beat South Africa 23-18 in a tough battle at Suncorp. But followed that win with a disappointing 23-19 loss to Argentina on the Gold Coast. They headed overseas to South Africa and started slowly with a 14-0 deficit after 21 minutes. Ultimately it cost them as they went down 23-12. Their latest test match was a high scoring affair and a game of two halves. Argentina opened a 31-7 lead at half-time. But the Wallabies turned it around in the second half with a 38-3 run on their way to a huge comeback. After failing to stop the All Blacks in both second halves of the Bledisloe Cup, the second half against Argentina should give them confidence of keeping up with NZ this time. The two storylines for this game will be Sekope Kepu bringing up 100 tests for Australia and Israel Folau signing a new contract with Rugby Australia.
On Saturday, the All Blacks will aim for a clean sweep of Australia and their 11-2 record against them is hard to back against. Coming into this matchup, the All Blacks have also faced Argentina and South Africa twice. At home, they smashed Argentina 46-24. But South Africa ended the All Blacks winning run with a close 36-34 win at Westpac Stadium. The All Blacks bounced back as they travelled to South America with another crushing win over Argentina 35-17. They got the ultimate revenge in their latest test match as they beat South Africa 32-30, despite trailing by 12 points in the latter stages. Ardie Savea saved the day in the 79th minute with the match winning try.
So with both sides in unfamiliar territory for game 3, I think that should give Australia a better chance of keeping up with the All Blacks this time. There’s extra motivation for Australia with Sekope Kepu bringing up 100 tests. I also think Folau may have lifted a weight off his shoulder after signing his contract with Rugby Australia and could be extra dangerous in this clash. The Wallabies also won game 3 last year, 23-18, which was a dead rubber. This is a key game for their 2019 World Cup hopes and I think they’ll be up for this clash. Australia to cover the line of 16.5 points looks the best bet.
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