Wellington - An All Blacks win in the second Bledisloe Cup Test
against Australia on Saturday will extend their hold on the trophy to 16 years
and may shorten the tenure of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
Calls for Cheika to resign after four years as Wallaby coach
grew louder after Australia's 38-13 loss in the first test at Sydney last
The Wallabies led 6-5 on halftime but conceded 33 unanswered
points in the second half, leading some fans - according to reports - to bang
on the window of the coaches' box calling on Cheika to refund their ticket
Public opinion likely would swing back in Cheika's favour if
the Wallabies can level the three-Test Bledisloe Cup series on Saturday.
But that seems unlikely given Australia hasn't won a Test at
Eden Park since 1986 and the All Blacks are unbeaten at the Auckland stadium in
41 Tests since 1991.
The flaws in the Wallabies' performance last week were so
deep they can have done little more than paper over the cracks in the seven
days between matches. The All Blacks humiliated the Australian forwards,
capturing eight out of 13 lineouts on Wallaby throws and securing a long series
of penalties from collapsed scrums.
While the Wallabies were able to go to halftime with a
one-point lead, the writing was already on the wall and the five-try second
half from the All Blacks came as no surprise.
Cheika had sent out his players with one instruction, to try
to tackle the All Blacks into submission. The plan worked for the first 35
minutes as the Wallabies swarmed around the ball-carrier and their physical
approach at the tackle area forced a number of handling errors.
But when All Blacks fullback Ben Smith slipped through a
tackle and linked with wing Waisake Naholo immediately before half-time, all of
the Wallabies effort was wasted. Scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored the first All
Blacks try, putting them back in the game, and the Wallabies were obviously
fatigued by the toll of making so many tackles.
New Zealand scored again immediately after the
restart and the landslide began.
Cheika will have learned, if he didn't know already, that no
team can beat the All Blacks by simply trying to prevent them from scoring:
they are too dangerous from turnover ball for that tactic to be successful.
Teams can only beat New Zealand by trying to outscore them,
but the Wallabies made no effort to do that last weekend.
Cheika has to revise his tactics for Saturday's match but
it's unlikely he has the talent at his disposal to make sweeping changes to the
Australian game plan.
He has moved to shore up his scrum by naming Michael
Alaalatoa and Scott Sio as his props and answered last week's lineout disaster
by naming uncapped hooker Folau Faingaa on the bench.
Cheika has been forced to make two changes to his backline
because of an injury to fullback Israel Folau, moving Dane Haylett-Perry to
fullback and handing Jack Maddocks his first test start on the wing.
Still pugnacious, Cheika said he believes the Wallabies can
beat the All Blacks on Saturday though no-one else does.
"I don't think anyone's expecting us to do it so I
don't feel anyone should fell any pressure," he said. "The only
people who think we can do this are us and we'll have to show that on Saturday
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has been forced to make
two backline changes by injuries to centre Ryan Crotty and winger Rieko Ioane,
took time from his favourite pastime of bating Cheika to agree with the
Australia coach that the Wallabies are still dangerous.
"I've been saying for a wee while I think they're a
good side," Hansen said. "They're playing the No 1 side in the world
and because they lose to us they're a poor side? That's probably naive.
"With a wee bit of luck they could have scored three or
four tries (last week). Whist that game looks dominant on the scoreboard, I
don't think it was that dominant on the park itself. I do think they're
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Substitute: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Tom Banks