Saturday, August 27, 2011

All Blacks vs Wallabies; the final shakedown

All eyes (in this household, anyway) will be on Brisbane late this evening as the All Blacks and Wallabies conclude their Rugby World Cup preparations. Sure; there is the small matter of this match being the Tri-Nations decider, but this year, there is really only one trophy which will be remembered.

Both countries are taking near full-strength teams into the match, and that's hardly surprising; it's the last chance that the players will get to run together before the RWC starts in just 13 days time. The RWC squads have been finalised, so for the All Blacks, there will be no shadows of doubt hanging over them in terms of cup selection.

The All Black team tonight has a seasoned, experienced look to it. There are a few changes from the team which comprehensively beat the Australians in Auckland. Adam Thompson replaces Jerome Kaino at blindside; Kaino is at home on parental leave. But the other changes are far more positive. The inclusion of Cory Jane and Zac Guilford on the wings gives the All Blacks added pace and vitality. Sivivatu and Gear were adequate against the Wallabies, but this combination has a much more dynamic look to it. And Tony Woodcock will be better for the run in Port Elizabeth, but more importantly, has had the acid on the Wallaby scrum for several seasons.

The choice of Piri Weepu at halfback is interesting. He had an excellent game against the Wallabies in Auckland, and gave Dan Carter a terrific ride. And Carter, Nonu and Smith thrived on the service from within. Weepu revealed during the week that Will Genia brings out the best in him.

The All Blacks put huge pressure on Genia and Quade Cooper in the Auckland match, and they will be looking to do likewise tonight. Putting a dent in Cooper's confidence tonight could have big implications if and when the two teams meet in the latter stages of RWC. The Australians will also miss James O'Connor's blistering pace as he sits this one out, reflecting on the wisdom of a night on the turps.

This match has the makings of a great contest, but it would surprise us if the All Blacks do not come away with a victory. Both teams have a lot to lose tonight, but it must be remembered that Robbie Deans' Wallabies have only beaten Graham Henry's All Blacks twice in the last four years. We don't see that changing tonight.

Let's get this match out of the way, and then everyone's focus can shift to what we have all been looking forward to since that awful Sunday morning in Cardiff four years ago.


jabba said...

I will be watching the locks .. I rate Ali big time. Brad is a beast and has become a top player but is at the end of his run. He seems stiff and slow these days. Sam is ok and will be there for years. Borich had a couple of good games last year but?? Hoeata is a young Brad and I hope he gets his chance next year.

pdm said...

jabba - I think lock is one of our worries going into the RWC because two of the four are coming back from injury and when you add Woodcock to that mix our tight forwards carry a large element of risk.

Using pool matches and quarter finals to get so called key players match fit is one of the major things that undid us in 2007 - remember Keith Robinson. Boric only played 40 minutes or thereabouts last night and I think he should have played at least 60. Ali Williams is still off the pace and really needs to play but you cannot do that with two players in the same position. He should have been left at home to play for Auckland today.

Ideally Woodcock will play 80 minutes tonight.

On a different note it is a shame Hoeata is not in Brisbane instead of starting at 6 against HB in the shield challenge tomorrow - lol.

jabba said...

don't forget the backs have Dagg (who I rate), Toeava and Kahui also back from recent injury. Then $BW with his sponsership issues and we do have potential problems


New Zealand (All blacks) Vs Australia (Wallabies) Live Streaming Rugby Online Tri Nation Series 27 Aug 2011

New Zealand (All blacks) Vs Australia (Wallabies) Live Streaming Rugby Online Tri Nation Series 27 Aug 2011

New Zealand (All blacks) Vs Australia (Wallabies) Live Streaming Rugby Online Tri Nation Series 27 Aug 2011

New Zealand (All blacks) Vs Australia (Wallabies) Live Streaming Rugby Online Tri Nation Series 27 Aug 2011

Barnsley Bill said...

Pop quiz. What happens when you finish 8th in the RWC and keep the sae coach and skipper four the next one. Answer can be found on sky sport right now. This is not looking good. They are getting monstered after 30 minutes.

nellie said...

Hmmm, not even 1/2 time and I'm struggling to watch. If this IS the strongest All Blacks team at the moment then they're in real trouble for RWC. Not physically but mentally and the ability to adapt. Some old heads and bodies struggling to cope. I hate to be a doom and gloom and not being tall poppy, but......

Robert Winter said...

I've just posted my explanation for tonight's strategic loss......I'm sure that we all have one.

Inventory2 said...

I'll post mine in the morning; need to sleep on it, literally.