All Blacks versus Wallabies preview

11 09 2008

This weekend the All Blacks play the Wallabies in the climax to the Tri Nations in Brisbane. If the All Blacks win they claim the Tri Nations and retain the Bledisloe Cup. If the Wallabies win they win the Tri Nations and have a chance at reclaiming the Bledisloe in the Hong Kong test match.

On another much more personal level it’s Robbie Deans versus the man whose job he should have, Graham Henry. If Deans Wallabies win his supporters will be crowing that he should have been coach. Henry is looking to validate his appointment. I know for some people the clash of the coaches is all that matters, for me I just want to smash the Aussies.

My favourite moment in sport is the 43 – 6 drubbing we handed the Aussies back in 1996. We played perfect wet weather rugby, scratch that we played perfect rugby. It was the first ever Tri Nations game and signalled the domination we would have over the tournament. If we come anywhere close to that performance I will be happy. I doubt we will but I can dream right?

So what do I think is going to happen this weekend?

We’re superior at the set piece. If the referee allows them to play properly and not fall for the aussie tricks then we should pummel them in the scrums, the departing Greg Somerville in particular will be looking for a huge game. The All Black lineout this year has been a revelation and they should continue that form this weekend though it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Aussies match us there.

For the first time in a while our backline looks settled. In Dan Carter we have the world’s best back but the Aussies can almost match us with Matt Giteau. Stirling Mortlock at second five helps us. At centre Mortlock is a terror and I have nightmares of all the times he has torn us apart. At second five we have Ma’a Nonu and I suspect he’ll be relishing the clash. The one player who worries me is Sivivatu and I just wish his cousin Rokocoko was playing in his place. However on the bench we have Isaia Toeava and he’s been in fine form. I suspect if Sivivatu is off his game he’ll be pulled and Toeava will take over.

Ultimately the game is going to come down to the breakdown. The awesome Richie McCaw against the impressive (but-not-quite-McCaw) George Smith. Unfortunately for us the Aussies have the better supporting cast – Phil Waugh and Rocky Elsom somewhat shade Kaino and So’oialo. But the game isn’t all about the loosies and I have a feeling that the ferocity of Ali Williams, Andrew Hore and Brad Thorn will ultimately tell.

Whatever the case it should be a cracking game.

I’m picking the All Blacks by 11.

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