8 Aug 2015

ABs face Wallabies in Bledisloe 'blinder'

5:02 pm on 8 August 2015

OPINION: Tonight's Bledisloe test match between the All Blacks and Wallabies promises to be a blinder.

The Wallabies celebrate victory, 2015.

The Wallabies celebrate victory, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While this year's Rugby Championship has been cut short because of the next month's World Cup, it's still provided plenty of memories, and what better way to finish it than a trans-Tasman clash for the title.

While a large portion of the New Zealand media and public has, and continues to, write off the Wallabies, our ANZAC neighbours are a side on the rise.

Michael Cheika, a man many New Zealanders love to hate for no other apparent reason than the guy who coaches our closest geographical rivals, has brought a much needed intensity to his Wallabies side and it's paying off.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Photo: Photosport

Taking a look at some of the statistics from this year's Rugby Championship, Australia leads a number of stat pages and at the top of the list is Israel Folau who leads most metres run with the ball, most defenders beaten and carries.

Also leading the charge in lineouts won is Aussie lock Rob Simmons who has unfortunately been ruled out of tonight's match through injury.

That aside, Cheika's attacking tenacity has seen a shift within the Wallabies camp that has been lacking for a few years now, and could very well get the better of the All Blacks tonight.

Last time the two sides met at ANZ Stadium the match ended in a draw, mainly because of the soggy conditions that turned the match into a battle of attrition amongst the forwards as well as a battle to hold onto the ball.

Australia has always been dangerous when they have the ball in hand but, as Dan Carter pointed out earlier in the week, the Wallabies have increased their physicality and the all round ball play.

I would love nothing more than to see the All Blacks finish off the Rugby Championship campaign with a 'W' next to tonight's game, it would be a great send off for the likes of Richie, Dan and Conrad in their last match on Australian soil.

The Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, who will make his All Blacks debut this weekend.

The Hurricanes wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, who will make his All Blacks debut this weekend. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But also for the newcomer Nehe Milner-Skudder who I'm sure is going to set the field alight on the right wing with that impressive side step.

A win tonight would lock up the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe for another year and give the All Blacks a confidence boost we would all enjoy.

In saying that, the last time we lost to the Aussies was in 2011 in Brisbane, we held onto the Bledisloe though and even managed to pick up the Webb Ellis Trophy the same year. Coincidence? I think not.

As the saying goes, you learn more from your mistakes than your successes; maybe a loss to our neighbours is just what the All Blacks need in the build up to their World Cup defence.

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