Moneyball: Understanding ABs' points start

By Michael Guerin

All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith in action in Sydney last weekend. Photo / Getty Images
All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith in action in Sydney last weekend. Photo / Getty Images

After watching the All Blacks cling to a draw in Sydney you could feel justified thinking the huge start bookies are giving the Wallabies tonight looks like easy money.

But dig a little deeper and recent history you would be wrong.

The New Zealand TAB has the All Blacks 9.5 point favourites for the second test at Eden Park, meaning you can back the Wallabies and even if they lose by less than 10 points you still collect.

Amazingly, some Australian bookmakers have their team an even longer outsider, giving them an 11.5 point buffer.

NZ TAB spokesman Mark Stafford says the points start has been lapped up by punters with the Aussies plus 9.5 points attracting 95 per cent of the money on that option at one stage this week.

The points start is based on the overall game price, which means because the All Blacks are so short to actually win the test at home, they appear to be giving a disproportionately large point start.

But in five of the last six clashes between the two rugby heavyweights at Eden Park the home team has won by more than 13 points, and in all six they have covered the bookies points start.

The remarkable sequence started in 2007 when the All Blacks were giving a 12 point start and won by 14 and was following by 2008 (3 point start, won by 29), 2009 (2 point start, won by 6), 2010 (9 point start, won by 16), 2011 (8 point start, won by 14) and last year's huge result, when bookies had the All Blacks giving 16 points away but they won by 22.

"Once we looked into that we even started to second guess ourselves about the price," admitted Stafford.

"But we have had huge support for the Wallabies and the head to head betting this week has been almost 50-50 with the All Blacks at $1.27 and the Aussies at $3.70."

One option which does seem out of whack with last Saturday's 12-12 draw is the total points score, which is set at 45.5 points.

While the weather will be significantly better this week, Eden Park's reputation as a points scoring mecca has been dented in recent years, most notably in the recent England-All Blacks clash and of course the World Cup Final.

If last Saturday's defence is anything to go by 46 total points could take plenty of scoring.

- NZ Herald

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