New Zealand v Australia in Brisbane (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
New Zealand already has the Bledisloe Cup safely stored in Wellington thanks to their earlier win over Australia. As the holder they only required that win to retain the trophy. What is up for grabs is the Tri Nations Trophy and a huge amount of Trans-Tasman pride.
New Zealand lost last weekend to South Africa with what amounted to their ‘B’ side. But a loss is a loss not easily dealt with by a nations that expects their rugby side to win every game. New Zealand need the win to make sure their World Cup train is firmly on the tracks. A loss tonight would be a severe derailment.
Australia has a very poor record against New Zealand in recent times. They have lost ten of the past even encounters with the All Blacks. A win tonight is vital in restoring Australia’s place as a major threat at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. A clash with their Australasian cousins, and with so much at stake, is what the Australians need to bring out the best in them.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this Australian side, from suspensions, to in-team fights and to a sudden change of captaincy. This will be James Horwell’s debut as captain. Vickerman returns to test rugby after a three year gap.
New Zealand coach Graham Henry has predictably made eleven changes to the side that last last weekend to South Africa.
Last Five Encounters
06.08.2011 New Zealand 30-14 in Auckland (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
30.10.2010 Australia 26-24 in Hong Kong (Bledisloe Cup)
11.09.2010 New Zealand 23-22 in Sydney (Tri Nations; Bledisloe Cup)
07.06.2010 New Zealand 20-10 in Christchurch (Tri Nations; Bledisloe Cup)
31.07.2010 New Zealand 49-28 in Melbourne (Tri Nations; Bledisloe Cup)
Previous Encounters in Brisbane
13.09.2008 New Zealand 28-24 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
29.07.2006 New Zealand 13-9 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
27.07.1996 New Zealand 32-25 (Bledisloe Cup; Tri Nations)
19.07.1992 Australia 19-17 (Bledisloe Cup)
16.07.1988 Drawn 19-19 (Bledisloe Cup)
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 2nd, Australia 3rd
Oceania Table-New Zealand 1st, Australia 2nd
IRB Ranking Points
New Zealand 91.64, Australia 87.85
Prediction: A close game, with New Zealand clinching it late in the second half. New Zealand by 4 points
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Anthony Fainga'a, 12 Patrick McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 William Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 James Horwill, Capt. 4 Daniel Vickerman, 3 Benjamin Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.
16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Robin Simmons, 19 Benjamin McCalman, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Robert Horne.
Head Coach: Robbie Deans
15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, Capt. 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Bradley Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Alistair Williams, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Isaia Toeava.
Head Coach: Graham Henry