Australia v New Zealand Preview

Wallabies               All Blacks

The Tri-Nations roadshow moves on to Melbourne this weekend for the Australian leg of the competition.  The Wallabies will host the match at the MCG, the first rugby match to be played there since 1998, when Australia beat New Zealand 24-16.

If history repeats itself tomorrow, I would be very surprised.  All the signs suggest that New Zealand will win comfortably, following their bruising victory over South Africa last week.

The Australian pack has been one of their greatest weaknesses in recent years, and it will come under immense pressure from the All Blacks.  New Zealand out-muscled the Springboks in the scrum last week, which is no mean feat, and Australia will not be able to live with the power.

Out wide, Australia look more of a force.  They have some of the most experienced campaigners in Gregan (131 caps), Larkham (98), Mortlock (57), Giteau (44) and Tuquiri (52) – a total of 382 caps between just 5 players.

That said, will they be too old and slow to cope with the pace and physicality of the New Zealand runners?  The likely lack of a forward platform will mean they are defending for most of the match, and fitness will be vital if they plan to keep the All Blacks at bay.

The Rugby Blog predicts a 24-point margin for the men in black, and the All Black juggernaut to roll on towards France.