Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 January 2020

Australia expect New Zealand backlash in quest to win Bledisloe Cup for first time in 17 years

Australians face second match with All Blacks after beating them in Perth with record points total

New Zealand were chastened on Saturday by Australia but have a chance to bounce back immediately in Auckland. AFP
New Zealand were chastened on Saturday by Australia but have a chance to bounce back immediately in Auckland. AFP

Australia expect chastened New Zealand to fire up and raise their "physical" game at their Eden Park fortress on Saturday as the world champions look to bounce back from the Perth upset and retain the Bledisloe Cup.

The Wallabies thrashed the All Blacks 47-26 at Perth Stadium to put themselves in charge of the annual trans-Tasman series and lift Australia's hopes of reclaiming the trophy for the first time since 2002, although they must win or draw on Saturday to achieve it.

The All Blacks were reduced to 14 men at the stroke of half time due to a red card to lock Scott Barrett, but the Wallabies' six-try performance garnered glowing reviews from both camps post match and was a huge boost for Michael Cheika's side six weeks out from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Rookie No 8 Isi Naisarani said the match was the most bruising of his three tests to date but he expected the All Blacks to go up a level at a venue where they remain unbeaten since a 23-20 loss to France in 1994.

"I think they're going to come hard at us. They're going to be fired up and yeah, they're going to be physical as well," Naisarani said on Tuesday. "So we need to mess them up."

Australia have not beaten the All Blacks at the Auckland cauldron since 1986 and have suffered a string of one-sided thrashings by Steve Hansen's side there in recent years.

But they will arrive this week with hope of finally breaking the drought, with the All Blacks in a rare state of disorganisation, which has come at exactly the wrong time as they prepare to try and win the World Cup for a record-extending fourth time.

With Barrett suspended for three weeks for his dangerous charge on captain Michael Hooper and Brodie Retallick battling a shoulder injury, the home side have a sudden shortage of second row forwards.

In-form centre Jack Goodhue will also miss the match with a hamstring injury, though able replacements abound in the position.

Australia, meanwhile, can look forward to the return of world class loose forward David Pocock, who is expected to be available for selection after battling a serious calf injury for months.

Wallabies full-back Kurtley Beale said there were virtues in sticking to the same starting 15 that racked up a record 47 points against the All Blacks but master ball-poacher Pocock would be a hard man to keep out.

"He was the guy with the most energy out there at training," he said of the 31-year-old flanker. "I think we're kind of holding him back a little bit as well ...

"His addition to the team would be awesome, someone of his calibre and experience would be very, very welcome."

New Zealand's assistant manager Ian Foster said he expected a strong reaction from the world champions after their woe in Perth, but they would learn their lesson from Barrett's red card.

"We lost the physical battle and we've got to be better at that but that doesn't mean you go out there and just be physical at all costs," Foster said.

"The most physical players are the smart ones who know how to accelerate into contact, they're accurate with clean-outs and they do it within the bounds of the law - if you don't then you're going to expose yourself to judgement."

All Blacks veteran lock Sam Whitelock echoed Foster's view and said his side could not afford to let intensity slide into ill-discipline.

"We want to play hard, but we've also got to play fair," he said.

"There are a thousand different cameras and different angles, things you probably got away with in the past is something that's not going to happen now."

Updated: August 13, 2019 12:10 PM