PREVIEW: All Blacks v Australia (Bledisloe 2)

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The Eden Park hoodoo has hung over the Australians since 1986 but being the last Test the All Blacks will play on New Zealand soil this year, the home side will be looking to ensure they get one result in the bank ahead of the remaining two games in Australia.

 

Battle lines drawn

 

Australia's decision to return Ned Hanigan to the blindside of the scrum at the expense of Pete Samu shows they are looking to up their game at the breakdown. That puts the heat on Shannon Frizell and his loose forward support to counter the Australian effort by attempting to gain dominance. It's been two years out of Test rugby for Hanigan but with his selection and the moving of Harry Wilson from the blindside to No8, there should be more fascination about the battle for control in this department.

Lineout sharpening

 

The All Blacks punished Australia for wayward lineout throwing in the first Test and coach Dave Rennie has moved quickly to improve that aspect by naming Brandon Paenga-Amosa ahead of try-scoring Brumbies machine Folau Fainga'a. Fainga'a  has been unable to claim a place in the match-day squad. The All Blacks have also made a change with Dane Coles returning to the starting role in place of Codie Taylor. Coles' experience, especially in the absence of lock Sam Whitelock from the tight five, will be crucial to the All Blacks regaining some of the fire missing in Wellington last weekend.

 

Backline solidity

 

Placing Anton Lienert-Brown as starting centre is an acknowledgement of just how tight things are in the position. Lienert-Brown has been outstanding in Super Rugby over the past two seasons and would be seen by many as the logical starter in the role, but Rieko Ioane has his followers. The chance is there for Lienert-Brown to put his stamp on the position with Ioane having his chance to put his speed to use later in the game. The Australians have stuck with Hunter Paisami while having Jordan Petaia on the bench to attempt to make an impact later in the game.

Double trouble

 

If taking first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga's ability to control games out of the equation in the first Test was the Australian goal, it will be interesting to see what the presence of Beauden Barrett in the starting XV will do to Australian thinking. Given the way the pair operated last year, for better or worse, they are more used to working together and that should give them the potential to create some issues for the Wallabies defence. New Zealand generally did a good job in containing the danger Tom Banks represented. So turning the tables and requiring the Wallabies to make more tackles than was the case in Wellington will be an important outcome for both Mo'unga and Barrett to achieve in their kicking games.

The teams are:

 

All Blacks

 

1.Joe Moody, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Tupou Vaa'i, 6.Shannon Frizell, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Ardie Savea, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Caleb Clarke, 12.Jack Goodhue, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Jordie Barrett, 15.Beauden Barrett.

 

Substitutes: 16.Codie Taylor, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Nepo Laulala, 19.Scott Barrett, 20.Hoskins Sotutu, 21.TJ Perenara, 22.Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23.Damian McKenzie.

 

Wallabies

 

1.James Slipper, 2.Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3.Taniela Tupou, 4.Lukhan  Salakaia-Loto, 5.Matt Philip, 6.Ned Hanigan, 7.Michael Hooper (captain), 8.Harry Wilson, 9.Nic White, 10.James O'Connor, 11.Marika Koroibete, 12.Matt To'omua, 13.Hunter Paisami, 14.Filipo Daugunu, 15.Tom Banks.

 

Substitutes: 16.Jordan Uelese, 17.Scott Sio, 18.Allan Alaalatoa, 19.Rob Simmons, 20.Liam Wright, 21.Jake Gordon, 22.Jordan Petaia, 23. Reece Hodge.

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