Wallabies to test Eden Park unbeaten run

All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa in action against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa in action against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs

After denying the All Blacks one record, the Wallabies will attempt to deprive them of another in the second Bledisloe Cup rugby test at Eden Park tomorrow.

By holding New Zealand to a 12-12 draw in last weekend's first test at Sydney, Australia ended the All Blacks' run of 17-straight test victories and prevented them gaining outright possession of the record for most consecutive test wins.

The impregnability of the All Blacks record on Eden Park, which stretches back to a 23-20 loss to France in 1994 and encompasses the 2011 World Cup final, would usually be enough to guarantee their favouritism for tomorrow's match.

But New Zealand were outplayed in Sydney and are grappling with significant injuries, while the Wallabies are unchanged.

The Wallabies took particular confidence from the fact they matched the All Blacks up front in Sydney, ending the recent history of dominance in that area that has underpinned a 12-year run of victories in Bledisloe Cup series.

The All Blacks appeared capable at times of placing the Australian scrum under pressure but referee Jaco Peyper often intervened, preventing scrums from running their course and suppressing that advantage.

Peyper also sin-binned two All Blacks and penalised New Zealand 14 times, mostly at breakdowns, preventing them gaining possession from phase play and forcing them to sternly evaluate their discipline ahead of the return match.

Frenchman Roman Poite will control Saturday's match in Auckland and he is also known to take a hard line on scrum infringements.

"Like all parts of the game, we've made progress [at scrums]," Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"But I also know one bad day at the office [and] the headlines come out." He suggested referees favour dominant scrums.

"There's no doubt that the French referees at scrum time will favour scrums going forward.

"That's the sort of philosophical approach in French rugby, which I understand."

The fact they faced the best Wallabies' performance in several years and emerged with a draw even when outplayed and under-manned also gives the All Blacks some confidence for tomorrow's match.

If they can achieve more continuity tomorrow, they also will be more effective in dry conditions.

The loss to injury of flanker Jerome Kaino and centre Ma'a Nonu, compounding the continuing absence of flyhalf Dan Carter and prop Tony Woodcock - stripping more than 300 test caps from the All Blacks' lineup - adds to the challenge.

- AP

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 23 Oct 2014 18:38:17 Processing Time: 447ms