The Breakdown: A statistical look at Bledisloe Cup II

Ross Houston
August 17, 2019

The Wallabies' record win over the All Blacks in the opening Test last weekend has led to New Zealand coach Steve Hansen taking drastic measures. It is the second-most experienced bench in Wallabies history, boasting 474 combined caps.

Nepo Laulala will start at tighthead prop in place of Franks.

Australia head coach Michael Cheika admitted that the Wallabies are desperate to claim the Bledisloe Cup when they lock horns with New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

The All Blacks also see their Auckland venue as a fortress, having won two of their three World Cup titles there and are unbeaten at the ground since 1994, a run of 42 matches - of which they have won 40.

By contrast, the Wallabies have made only one change to their starting XV, and that was forced by lock Rory Arnold's injury.

The 37-year-old, who retired from internationals in 2015, has a wealth of experience after a stellar 112-Test career that included winning two World Cups and three World Rugby player of the year awards. You strive to being the best you can be and if you play one test match, well that's better than the bloke who played none, isn't it?

Fiji-born Reece, 22, was the brightest light in Super Rugby this year, thrilling with his electric running on the way to a competition-high 15 tries in his rookie season for the champion Crusaders.

England's 33-19 victory over Wales, however, ensured that Steve Hansen's side retained the top ranking for at least another week, although that is again up for contention in this weekend's World Cup warmup games. Crusaders teammate Bridge's three caps have all come off the bench, including two tries on debut against Japan previous year. We've said all along, it's a tough job for them to do and there are a whole lot of dynamics at play. Whilst Rieko and Ben Smith are world-class players, we think these boys [Reece and Bridge] are capable of being world-class players too'.

"They humiliated those poor All Blacks and it was good for rugby".

Asked how big an improvement he wanted from the tight five, Hansen said: "200 percent". "There's a lot of pride in the team". "There's no point in us highlighting anything else - we've been found guilty of something and we've just got to take our medicine on that".

All Blacks: Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Nepo Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Reece Hodge, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Reserves: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Jackson Hemopo, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett.

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