Rugby Championship

Wounded Wallabies back themselves to upset All Blacks

2018-08-24 09:03
Michael Hooper (Getty)

Auckland - The under fire Wallabies presented a bullish face in Auckland on Friday on the eve of the second Test despite the All Blacks being on the verge of claiming the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th consecutive year. 

"Our backs are not against the wall," insisted captain Michael Hooper when questioned about New Zealand's dominant 38-13 win in the opening match in Sydney last week. 

"We believe in our shape, we believe in what we can do... the mind-set’s confident, the mind-set understands what we need to do to be a contending team all the time." 

The All Blacks' win in Sydney put them one up in the best-of-three series. The first two matches form part of the Rugby Championship which also involves South Africa and Argentina. 

They dominated the set pieces and outscored the Wallabies six tries to one with a points explosion in the final quarter. 

The Wallabies have not held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 and it has been 32 years since they last beat the All Blacks in Auckland but New Zealand coach Steve Hansen played down suggestions that Saturday's outcome was a foregone conclusion. 

Australia could have scored four or five tries but "just made wee mistakes" in Sydney, he said. 

As injuries and form forced both sides into changes for the return encounter, Hansen said the Sydney win was not as one-sided as it seemed and he expected a desperate Wallabies to be a tougher proposition a week later. 

"We have to play better than last week because we know they will," he said, adding that backing up from one good performance was "the hardest thing to do" in sport. 

The All Blacks focus leading up to the Test has been on ball protection and controlling the breakdown. 

"They've obviously got some great guys over the ball so making sure we try and recycle as many phases as we can" has been the central preparation, according to captain Kieran Read. 

The All Blacks have made two injury enforced changes with Ngani Laumape at inside centre for Ryan Crotty while Rieko Ioane's unavailability has seen a reshuffle to accommodate Jordie Barrett at fullback with Ben Smith moving to the right wing and Waisake Naholo switching to the left. 

Much of the finger-pointing in the Australian camp after last week's loss has been levelled at the tight five where coach Michael Cheika has reacted with a front row shake up, bringing in Brumbies props Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio. 

In the backs, Jack Maddocks gets his first Test start on the right wing while Dane Haylett-Petty replaces injured fullback Israel Folau. 

Hooper said the Wallabies had done a lot of work to improve their set piece. 

"It obviously wasn't up to par last week and it stifled our attack, put a lot of pressure on our defence to be able to deal with New Zealand which we did for a period of time. 

"So we've done a good amount of work on that this week. I'm confident with where our lineouts are at and the options we've got there."

Teams:

New Zealand

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

Australia

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

 

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