Fri 23 Aug 2013 | 06:13

Preview: New Zealand v Australia

Preview: New Zealand v Australia
Fri 23 Aug 2013 | 06:13

Preview: New Zealand v Australia


The Wallabies will be looking for redemption from last week's humiliation when they take on the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.

New coach Ewen McKenzie's first match in charge ended in disaster in Sydney last week, as they conceded six tries on home soil to slump to a 47-29 defeat.

They need to reverse that result if they are to have any hope of challenging for the Rugby Championship title, whilst defeat will also see New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup.

McKenzie has given the same combinations a chance to rectify matters away from home, with just one injury-enforced change and plenty of talk about how 'angry' they are about what happened last week.

They face an All Blacks side which is down to their fourth-choice flyhalf, with pivot Tom Taylor set to make his debut thanks to injuries to Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.

However, to make things a little less daunting in his first Test the ace goal-kicker will be surrounded by the rest of the backline that ran amok in Sydney last week, which should go some way to putting him at ease.

After pouring through tapes of the first Test hiding looking for holes in the New Zealand attack, the Australians believe the All Blacks handed them a trump card with their choice of the untested Taylor in the crucial flyhalf position.

Taylor has the responsibility of steering the All Blacks around the park and Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia said that they will do everything they can to unnerve him.

"You have to. It's someone playing his first Test and that's something we'll look to pressure him and see how he copes with the decision-making and controlling of their game," Genia said.

"From our point of view we want to put as much pressure on him as we can and see how he deals with it."

Wallabies skipper James Horwill, however, added a note of caution about the "target Taylor" strategy, referring to the 2011 World Cup when multiple flyhalf injuries earned Stephen Donald a recall for the final – and Donald kicked the winning penalty.

"They were down to the fourth or fifth five-eighth and they still won the World Cup," said Horwill.

A week ago it was Wallabies flyhalf Matt Toomua, making his debut, who was the centre of attention.

The Brumbies pivot was rattled by the attention he received from the All Blacks, but Genia expected a more solid performance this week.

"He'll be a lot more confident having that one game under his belt and he'll have more confidence in doing the things he does well," Genia said.

"He's a great kicker of the ball and you saw throughout the Brumbies season he was able to put them in good field position and get them out of trouble very effectively so he'll be confident in bringing those things that he does well into this game."

Players to watch:

For New Zealand: The spotlight will be on flyhalf Tom Taylor, but it is the players around him that are likely to provide the spark. Ben Smith is the outside back of the moment and will be looking to back up his hat-trick last week, whilst his fellow Smiths Conrad and Aaron should also threaten the Wallaby defence. In the forward pack Brodie Retallick will want to make the most of his opportunity to start and captain Richie McCaw will play a major role at the breakdown.

For Australia: There will be a few Wallabies who feel they have something to prove after last week. James O'Connor's positional play and defence was exposed and flyhalf Matt Toomua failed to prove much of a threat on attack so they will want to turn things around. Will Genia is always a threat but he will need the forwards to front up so that he can give the backline quality ball. Scott Fardy usually plays lock so he will provide some grunt alongside Ben Mowen whilst James Slipper will want to have as much of an impact in the tight exchanges as he did in the loose last week.

Head to head: James O'Connor will not want to give Ben Smith nearly as much space as he did last week, and in the midfield the battle between experienced centres Conrad Smith and Adam Ashley-Cooper should be one to savour. The duel for the ball on the ground between Michael Hooper and Richie McCaw will be intense and at scrum-time Test centurion Tony Woodcock will need all of his experience up against Ben Alexander.

Recent results:
2013: New Zealand won 47-29 in Sydney
2012: Drew 18-18 in Brisbane
2012: New Zealand won 22-0 in Auckland
2012: New Zealand won 27-19 in Sydney
2011: New Zealand won 20-6 in Auckland
2011: Australia won 25-20 in Brisbane
2011: New Zealand won 30-14 in Auckland
2010: Australia won 26-24 in Hong Kong
2010: New Zealand won 23-22 in Sydney
2010: New Zealand won 20-10 in Christchurch
2010: New Zealand won 49-28 in Melbourne

Prediction: The Wallabies will be better for last week's experience, but they will have to improve beyond measure if they are to upset the All Blacks which is why we are backing the home side to win by about seven points.


New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charles Piutau.

Australia: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Date: Saturday, August 24
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Expected weather: Clear with a high of 14, low of 10, 30 km/h wind
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

AFP and rugby365

PV: 48
Preview: New Zealand V Australia - Australia | Rugby365