New Zealand v Australia | Saturday, August 26, 5.35pm (AEST), Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
After a week of soul-searching following their Bledisloe Cup game 1 horror show, the embattled Wallabies have an opportunity to restore some immediate pride in the Wallabies jersey.
Walloped 54-34 by the all-conquering All Blacks in Sydney last Saturday, Michael Cheika’s men travel across the Tasman to Dunedin looking for redemption.
After conceding no less than eight tries in 48 minutes which saw them trail 54-6, the Wallabies head into Bledisloe 2, bruised, battered and scarred.
How they respond will test the true character of the side which showed significant defensive deficiencies against a ruthless and clinical All Blacks outfit.
Wallabies defensive coach Nathan Grey has endured a testing week, trying to instil some steel into a defensive unit which looked brittle and ineffective.
Australia will have to rectify and improve their tackling efficiency after missing 30 out of 98 attempted tackles at a miserly 69 percent.
Those lapses in defence proved costly with the All Blacks punishing them and converting those turnovers into points.
Besieged Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has resisted the urge to wield the axe, instead making just three changes.
Veteran Rob Simmons has been elevated into the starting line-up for Rory Arnold while Tevita Kuridrani comes in for Samu Kerevi and Dane Haylett-Petty replaces Curtis Rona on the wing.
After obliterating the Wallabies in Sydney, there’s not much more the All Blacks can do to improve on heading into Dunedin.
Their only concern will be surrendering a 48-point lead and allowing the Wallabies to score four second half tries but the game was well and truly over by then and the All Blacks uncharacteristically clocked off.
They’ll look to make amends in Dunedin and that spells danger for the Wallabies who were badly beaten in the contact zone.
Michael Cheika’s men showed some positive signs in attack led by the likes of Kurtley Beale, but their biggest concern will be containing the All Blacks and being more efficient and effective in the contact zone.
But even an improvement might not be enough to overcome the might of the rampaging All Blacks.
New Zealand at $1.01
Australia at $15.00
Tip: New Zealand at $1.01
Line tip: New Zealand -25.5 (1.66)
1. Joe Moody 2. Dane Coles 3. Owen Franks 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Sam Whitelock 6. Liam Squire 7. Sam Cane 8. Kieran Read (c) 9. Aaron Smith 10. Beauden Barrett 11. Rieko Ioane 12. Sonny Bill 13. Ryan Crotty Williams 14. Ben Smith 15. Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Kane Hames, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.
1. Scott Sio 2. Stephen Moore 3. Allan Alaalatoa 4. Rob Simmons 5. Adam Coleman 6. Ned Hanigan 7. Michael Hooper (c) 8. Sean McMahon 9. Will Genia 10. Bernard Foley 11. Henry Speight 12. Kurtley Beale 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Dane Haylett-Petty 15. Israel Folau (56 Tests)
Reserves 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau 17. Tom Robertson 18. Sekope Kepu 19. Rory Arnold 20. Lopeti Timani 21. Nick Phipps 22. Reece Hodge 23. Curtis Rona