After a thrilling 16-16 extra-time draw in Game 1, expectations are high for another exciting clash in Game 2 this Sunday at Eden Park.
Eden Park, 2:00pm Sunday
There's no doubt the All Blacks will be disappointed in their Game 1 performance and we're expecting a better showing from the home side in Game 2. A major factor in their poor Game 1 was a late injury to Beauden Barrett and that saw Damian McKenzie come into the starting side at fullback. Luckily Beauden Barrett has recovered from injury for Sunday's clash and will replace McKenzie in the starting side. But the All Blacks have more injury concerns. Sam Whitelock has been ruled out with a head injury. Rieko Ioane made an embarrassing fumble as he went to put the ball down in Game 1 and it's likely cost him a starting spot for Game 2 with Anton Lienert-Brown coming in. While on the wing, Caleb Clarke gets his chance with George Bridge out with injury.
What a performance by the Wallabies in Game 1! They were at long odds to compete with the All Blacks but came away with a confidence-building result in the 16-16 draw. They were unlucky as well with Reece Hodge's booming penalty shot hitting the post and a certain touch judge call in the lead up to the All Blacks first try. The challenge in Game 2 will be working on their goal line attack, where the All Blacks had their number. They'll also need to be ready in defence for what should be a fired-up All Blacks team in the first half as they look to bounce back from a poor outing. In terms of team changes, new Wallaby coach Dave Rennie has made 4 changes at this point. Pete Samu has been dropped and Ned Hanigan will come in. Folau Fainga’a had a shocker in Game 1 and he's been replaced by Brandon Paenga-Amos. Liam Wright has been named on the bench for Rob Valtini. Jordan Petaia is back from injury and will take Noah Lolesio's spot.
The most important stat for Game 2 is the fact that the Wallabies haven’t beaten the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1986! In recent history at the venue, the All Blacks have won 36-0, 40-12, 37-10, 41-13, 51-20 and 22-0 against the Wallabies. In Game 1 of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks turned the ball over 21 times compared to Australia’s 12. The Wallabies were much more attacking with 10 offloads to 3 and also won the metres battle (564-473). Discipline is where the Wallabies will look to improve after conceding 14 penalties to 7.
Eden Park has been a horror ground for the Wallabies as they haven't won a test match here since the 80s and lost 36-0 in 2019. But they looked much improved in Game 1 under Dave Rennie and we do give them a chance of keeping up with the All Blacks, similarly to Game 1. What was impressive in Game 1 was their fighting spirit in the second half as they crossed for 2 tries and overcame an early 8-0 deficit. So for Game 2, we feel like this clash will be pretty similar. The All Blacks will be fired up in the first half and that should see the Wallabies fighting hard for points in the second half. So we like their chances of covering the second half underdog line.
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