New Zealand v Australia, Rugby Championship
Kiwis seek back-to-back wins
August 23, 2012
New Zealand had it far too easy last weekend © Getty Images
New Zealand will look to secure back-to-back victories over the Wallabies when they entertain their perennial rivals at Eden Park on Saturday.
The All Blacks silenced the Sydney crowd last weekend with a 27-19 win against Australia. Israel Dagg and Cory Jane crossed the line with Dan Carter contributing 17 points from the boot. Australia's effort came through Nathan Sharpe with Berrick Barnes keeping their side of the scoreboard ticking over from the tee.
The pressure is now on Robbie Deans to turn around the Wallabies' fortunes. Ex-Australia coach Alan Jones has claimed that New Zealand-born Deans is "not up to" to the job and that the team is "badly coached". In contrast, Steve Hansen has started his tenure as New Zealand coach in the perfect way - a win over their biggest rivals.
New Zealand - Player to Watch: Israel Dagg is quickly establishing himself as the world's premier fullback. He completely outshone his opposite number Kurtley Beale last weekend and is playing the same sort of rugby that saw him establish himself as one of the 2011 World Cup's best backs.
New Zealand - Team News: It's almost as you were for the Kiwis with Wyatt Crockett coming in for the injured Tony Woodcock. Ben Franks retains his spot on the bench with Richie McCaw keeping the captaincy. It will also be Sonny Bill Williams' last outing in the All Blacks jersey for a while with the centre set to journey to Japan and then on to rugby league in Australia.
Australia - Player to Watch: It simply has to be Quade Cooper. Exiled last weekend, supporters of the Wallabies will hope that the mercurial fly-half can get their backline firing once again.
Australia - Team News: Cooper is back for the Wallabies with Berrick Barnes shifting to inside centre. Drew Mitchell is also back in the green and gold on the wing but Kurtley Beale and Anthony Faingaa miss out. Michael Hooper takes the injured David Pocock's place at openside with Stephen Moore replacing Tatafu Polota Nau at hooker and Ben Alexander comes in for the injured Sekope Kepu. Will Genia captains the side.
Kurtley Beale was left to ponder what might have been after they lost last weekend © PA Photos
Key Battle: It's master against apprentice at openside with the world's best No.7 Richie McCaw going face to face with Michael Hooper. With Pocock sidelined, Hooper has the chance to impress for the Wallabies and after an impressive Super Rugby campaign, he certainly has the potential to cause Deans a few headaches in the back-row.
Trivia: Dan Carter has now scored 17 points in three successive Tests.
Stats: Saturday's match will be Nathan Sharpe's 100th start for the Wallabies - second only to Victor Matfield in the history of Test rugby.
"The fans are important to us and getting the opportunity to play a home Test is one we cherish." - All Blacks boss Steve Hansen
"We're very good at saying what we're going to do. But we've got to do it." - Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore
Prediction: The All Blacks will storm to a more convincing win than last week
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