Australia host 2017 Rugby Championship winners New Zealand this weekend at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for the third Bledisloe Cup Test of the year.
Australia last beat New Zeland in 2015 but have not held the Bledisloe Cup since 2002. The All Blacks won the first two Bledisloe Cup matches 34-54 in Sydney and 35-29 in Dunedin.
The World Champions bagged the Bledisloe Cup for the 15th consecutive year and head into Saturday’s fixture as firm favourites.
Suncorp Stadium is traditionally a difficult venue for the Kiwis.
Of five matches there over the past 11 years, the All Blacks have lost one, drawn one, and won three but never by more than a four-point margin.
The Test might be a dead rubber, but for the Wallabies, who last lifted the trophy in 2002, a win is crucial for the country’s rugby moral.
The All Blacks have made four changes to the side that overcame South Africa in Cape Town.
Lima Sopoaga will make his second Test start at first five-eighth, his first start in two years after Beauden Barrett was ruled out through an injury.
Damian McKenzie, whose eight Tests have primarily been at fullback, will provide cover at stand-off.
Waisake Naholo comes onto the right wing in place of the injured Nehe Milner-Skudder. The other two changes are on the bench where TJ Perenara and Anton Lienert-Brown come into the match-day 23.
SAM WHITELOCK EQUALS RECORD
Sam Whitelock will equal Ian Jones’ record of 75 Test starts by a lock. It will also mark his 93rd Test overall for the All Blacks – the most by an All Blacks lock.
Whitelock has scored five tries in his Test career and will combine with his Crusaders teammate Scott Barrett in Brisbane.
The Crusaders pair will face a stern test against the physical Wallabies duo of Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman.
Sam Cane will play his 50th Test.
Australia will feel very unlucky to not have a victory over the All Blacks in 2017.
After trailing the All Blacks 54-6 in Sydney, the Wallabies stormed back with 28 unanswered points to make it 54-34 at halftime.
In Dunedin, Australia leapt out a 17-0 lead and held their advantage until the 78th minute when Beauden Barrett crossed to secure the Bledisloe Cup.
Michael Cheika’s side will be motivated to steal one back on the All Blacks in front of a boisterous Brisbane crowd.
Lock Rob Simmons comes in as the only change to the team that beat Argentina 37-20 a fortnight ago, replacing Izack Rodda, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday.
Stephen Moore was named among the reserves for his final Test on Aussie soil and his 125th overall – and in front of his home crowd.
The veteran hooker will end his international career after Australia’s European tour in November.
Australia v New Zealand Rugby History
Matches played: 160
All Blacks won: 111
Australia won: 42
Last match: All Blacks 35, Australia 29 (26 August 2017)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 43-6 (1996)
Last Australia victory: 27-19 (2015)
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: BEEP! BEEP! Bernard Foley gets the Bledisloe Cup underway in Brisbane.
4.00: New Zealand goes close but some good defending by Australia, stops an early try.
6.00: The All Blacks get a free-kick at the scrum. They opt for another scrum set-piece.
7.00: TRY REECE HODGE! The winger intercepts Lima Sopoaga’s poor pass. Aaron Smith switched play from right to left, but Sopoaga gives the Wallabies a gift: 5-0
8.00: Foley adds the extras: 7-0
10.00: Australia has started well, taking the attack to the Kiwis, however, they lose their lineout and give away a penalty inside the All Blacks’ 22. The Wallabies are going wide at every opportunity.
12.00: Referee Wayne Barnes awards back-to-back penalties after some excellent work by Kieren Read at the ruck.
14.00: TRY New Zealand. Waisake Naholo strolls in for an easy score after a turnover. Aaron Smith’s slick skip-pass sent the winger over in the corner: 7-5
16.00: Sopoaga slots the touchline conversion to level the scores: 7-all
20.00: Massive hit on Will Genia from Naholo, but the home team gets the penalty and clears the danger.
21.00: another sloppy lineout by the Wallabies, but they retain possession and punch the ball up in the midfield.
23.00: Rob Simmons is penalised for entering the ruck from the side. Michael Cheika is furious because Read and Sam Cane could have been penalised for going off their feet.
25.00: PENALTY Sopoaga! The flyhalf gives his team a three-point lead from 45 metres out: 7-10
27.00: Sopoaga dinks a chip-kick over the Aussie backline but the home team recover and counter-attack. Somehow, the Kiwis win the ball back after Simmons took it into the ruck.
28.00: Damian McKenzie’s excellent kick puts the Wallabies on the back foot inside their 22.
29.00: Tevita Kuridrani is stripped of the ball and the All Blacks counter. The centre went into contact upright and it was like stealing candy from a baby. New Zealand is awarded a penalty in front of the sticks.
31.00: PENALTY is good from Sopoaga: 7-13
33.00: Australia still in this game despite trailing near the end of the first-half.
34.00: Poor handling by the World champions; they lose the ball and Australia has a scrum on their 22.
36.00: The pitch is very slippery, the scrums have dug out some turf. Australia attack from a midfield scrum. Kurtley Beale takes the crash ball, then throws a dummy before knocking the ball forwards.
37.00: The Brisbane crowd has gone very quiet. Kane Hames leaves the field for an HIA and 34-year-old Wyatt Crockett enters the field.
39.00: Australia goes 10 phases, Scott Barrett is pinged for offsides but the Wallabies play the advantage.
40.00: TRY Israel Folau! Great angled run by the fullback after taking Beale’s pass: 12-13
41.00: MISS! Foley can’t give his team a half-time lead but the Aussies are right in this Test: 12-13
The half-time score was Australia 12 New Zealand 13
41.00: BEEP! BEEP! We are back underway in Queensland for the second-half of the third Bledisloe Cup Test. Australia had the better of the territory and possession but trail at the break. Sopoaga restarts, kicking short to the left and the Kiwis win an early penalty.
43.00: New Zealand went to the front of the lineout and set up a driving maul. Jack Dempsey and Simmons make two tackles to halt the Kiwi momentum before Michael Hooper wins the penalty at the breakdown. It was Rieko Ioane who held the ball and penalised because support never arrived.
43.00: There is a break in play because of an injury to Rob Simmons. The lock is being taken off on a stretcher with a neck-brace on. Lukhan Tui replaces Simmons since he was taken from the field.
44.00: Folau sends Marika Koroibete away down the touchline with a wonderful offload while falling to the ground. Australia goes a couple phases with quick-ball. Somehow Beale knocks on in a good try scoring position near the posts.
47.00: What is Wayne Barnes doing? Australia wheeled the All Blacks’ scrum, Dempsey picks up the ball and sends the ball away for Koroibete, yet somehow the ref bottles the call. New Zealand pack down and win a penalty. Big call, that and as a result, the Kiwis release the pressure.
49.00: Sopoaga kicks possession away, Folau counter-attacks and consequently, the Wallabies are awarded a penalty. Folau has been incredible tonight. It was Crockett who was pinged. some niggle creeping into the Test but maybe the Wallabies should not engage.
51.00: ANOTHER MISS by Foley; he’s having one of those days where he cannot find his radar and as a result, the Wallabies still trail: 12-13
53.00: Barnes awards a scrum-penalty to Australia and finally some luck in the set piece for the home team. Hodge kicks to the Kiwi 22.
55.00: Australia going through the phases as a result of the quick-ball, the All blacks go offsides twice yet the Wallabies fluff their lines. Foley kicks to the corner.
56.00: A brave call from Hooper, not taking the points, instead, going to their driving maul.
57.00: AND IT’S THE RIGHT CALL! Koroibete takes Folau’s delayed pass and goes over in the left corner to give his team the lead: 17-13
58.00: Foley misses again. Remember the goal-kicking woes in Dunedin which cost the Wallabies? – 17-13
60.00: It’s all Wallabies at the minute. The game is entering the final quarter; we all know what happens in the last 20 minutes when playing the All Blacks.
61.00: Penalty to Australia. Tatafu Polota-Nau is cleaned out by Cane from the side and as a result, Barnes awards the home team a penalty. That was a cheap shot by the flanker. Barnes is talking to the skippers about ill-discipline.
62.00: Stephen Moore enters the game on his home field to the delight of the crowd.
63.00: Australia is awarded another penalty and Hodge will take a shot from wide and from distance.
65.00: PENALTY is good, what a kick by Hodge! He extends his team’s lead to seven: 20-13
67.00: Folau takes the ball into contact but the ball is turned over and TJ Perenara kicks the ball into the Aussie 22. somehow, the ball roles out after Koroibete slides in to save the day.
68.00: Some big defence by Australia, hitting the Kiwis on the advantage line. The pressure tells and the Aussies attack from deep. Some big hits coming from everywhere.
69.00: Foley was destroyed by Ofa Tu’ungafasi, he gets up only to kick the ball out after it was taken back into his 22. Barnes screamed at the standoff, telling him that it was touched by a Wallaby yet – maybe the big hit told – he did not hear him. lineout to ABs on the 22.
71.00: Wouldn’t you know it, Rieko Ioane takes Read’s pass after some wonderful hands and offload by Sonny Bill Williams. It is the winger’s ninth try in 10 Tests: 20-18
72.00: Damian McKenzie misses from wide: 20-18
73.00: New Zealand has only lost twice in the last 70 Tests when leading at half-time, both times to Australia.
76.00: Massive moment! Australia is awarded a penalty after Tu’ungafasi takes out Beale. Hodge will attempt a long kick from 53 metres.
78.00: WOW! It’s over, Hodge extends his team’s lead to five with 90 seconds to play: 23-18
79.00: Kiwi penalty; McKenzie kicks deep into the Aussie 22.
80.00: New Zealand go wide, they take the contact but lose the ball forwards and that is the ball game. Wow! Stunning win by Australia, beating the World champions. They missed 11 tackles to the visitor’s 28.
The final score is Australia 23 (12) New Zealand 18 (13)
Tries – Hodge, Folau, Koroibete
Pen – Hodge (2)
Con – Foley
Tries – Naholo, Ioane
Pen – Sopoaga (2)
Con – Sopoaga
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 2 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight.
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Thomas Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 David Havili.