…a look at history tells us that this weekend in Wellington might not be so bad. You have to go a long way back to find consecutive Bledisloe disasters for the Aussies – the infamous 1972 ‘Woeful Wallabies’ to be exact. That year they gave up an aggregate of 97 points to 29 across three horribly mismatched tests.
Since then, the Wallabies have copped their fair share of hidings. But they’ve always managed to bounce back and regain some respectability in the next test:
1988 – After getting given a 33-7 lesson in Sydney in the first test, the Wallabies rallied to a 19-all draw in Brisbane for the second. It was the only test the All Blacks didn’t win in a 50 game unbeaten streak.
1996 – The famous 43-6 victory at Athletic Park in the first test meant no one expected anything out of the Wallabies in the second test in Brisbane. They almost snatched victory, at one stage leading 25-9 before conceding a try on the last play of the game to lose 32-25.
2003 – Not even the insanity of then-All Black coach John Mitchell could stop them blasting through the convert-laden Wallabies for a 51-20 win in Sydney. The next test at Eden Park saw a much closer margin of 21-17.
2006 – A 32-12 walk in the park for the All Blacks in Christchurch was followed up by an incredibly tense 13-9 win in Brisbane. The second test marked arguably Richie McCaw’s finest performance.
2014 – OK, so a good few months separated the 51-20 beatdown at Eden Park and the 29-28 thriller at Suncorp Stadium. But the fact still remains that these were consecutive Bledisloe tests.
It’s kind of clear from all of this that the Wallabies are capable of being a pack of bumbling fools one week, but then consistently playing much better next time out against the All Blacks. It’s also very obvious that playing in Brisbane greatly helps their cause, although their 2003 turnaround is about as close as anyone has got to beating the All Blacks on Eden Park in 22 years.
Unfortunately for our Australian friends though, one other thing is painfully clear – they may have played better in the tests after they’ve been thrashed, but they haven’t ever won. It’s pretty hard to see that pattern changing on Saturday night either.
Prediction: All Blacks by 11.
Injuries have probably hit Australia harder, and that may stop the cogs from meshing together. But you would have to be brave to put a lazy tenner on an All Black loss. The win is in the bag. The real questions will be: How entertaining will it be to watch? Have the Australians fixed their set-piece problems? Will moving Izzy confuse the hell out of ’em?
– Jamie Wall, RNZ