Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Date: Saturday, November 7, 2020
Bledisloe IV takes place this weekend at Suncorp and while Australia cannot win back the trophy this year, there are Tri-Nations points – and pride – on the line in this one. The pride factor comes into play as the Wallabies were smashed to pieces in a record-breaking 43-5 defeat in Sydney last weekend. The All Blacks have had complete control over Australia on the rugby pitch as of late and the hosts will be desperate to put together a better performance – and perhaps even sneak out a victory – on Saturday.
Australia picked up plenty of confidence from the opening Bledisloe Cup match of 202 just over a month ago as they held the All Blacks to a 16-16 draw in Wellington. It could have been even better for the visitors on the day, with a late Reece Hodge penalty being a coat of paint away from providing an unexpected victory. New Zealand bounced back from the draw, however, with wins in both Bledisloe II and Bledisloe III.
The big issue the Aussies have right now is a lack of depth. Their first-choice side was good enough to run with the All Blacks, but injuries that have been picked up over the last month have contributed to make this team a shell of the one that took the game to New Zealand in Wellington.
Last week saw the debut of youngster Noah Lolesio at fly-half and it proved to be a baptism by fire. Lolesio is dropped to the bench this week, with the aforementioned Reece Hodge starting his first Test for the Wallabies at fly-half with James O’Connor still struggling with a knee injury. At the other end of the experience scale, Rob Simmons will win his 104th cap in place of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. The battle in the centers will be interesting, with the Wallabies rolling out a pair of Queensland Reds in Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami.
New Zealand seems to be taking this chance to experiment with some new combinations with the Bledisloe already locked up. Akira Ioane will be making his Test debut in this one, with his brother continuing to start on the wing. Both backline Barretts will also be in the starting XV, with Beaden at No. 10 and Jordie playing at fullback. This means a place in the starting side for the ever-dangerous Sevu Reece. Scott Barrett completes a trio of brothers in the starting side and there is plenty of explosion on the bench in the likes of Damian McKenzie and Will Jordan.
The Wallabies will struggle here as they just don’t have the right pieces at the playmaking position. Matt Toomua is also still out thanks to a groin issue and the team looked devoid of ideas and quality at the 10/12 positions without him and O’Connor in the side last time out. New Zealand will win again, but it is unrealistic to expect another victory by 40+ points as Australia will be desperate to save face, slow down the game, and make this as tight as possible. Take the All Blacks with BetXChange at something in the 16-20 (5.75) or 21-25 (6.75) points range.