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All Blacks' brilliance likely to ensure winning streak is unbroken


Spiro Zavos

Adam Ashley-Cooper ... the only survivor in the Wallabies back line from their 22-0 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park.

Adam Ashley-Cooper ... the only survivor in the Wallabies back line from their 22-0 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park. Photo: Getty Images

ONE way or another, rugby history is going to be made tonight. The moveable feast of the Wallabies faces an unstoppable All Blacks force at Suncorp Stadium.

The All Blacks are gunning for a 17th consecutive Test win and their 100th Test victory (based on NZRU statistics) against the Wallabies. They have won 38 of their past 41 Tests.

When the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies at Eden Park 22-0, losing coach Robbie Deans reckoned his side was given a "masterclass" in modern, winning rugby. Adam Ashley-Cooper, the only survivor in the Wallabies back line from that lesson, reckons this is the best team he has ever played against.

While the All Blacks have been enjoying a dream run, the Wallabies have been buffeted by injuries, with 20 or so potential starters out. There has also been intense criticism about their lack of flair, and some toxic dissension from Quade Cooper.

The Wallabies will have passionate support tonight. Suncorp Stadium has become something of a fortress for the Wallabies, with 17 wins and three losses at the venue. It was where last year, weeks before the World Cup, on the strength of several storming runs by Radike Samo, the Wallabies defeated the All Blacks 25-20.

That was the last defeat suffered by the All Blacks. Their run of 16 consecutive wins culminated in a brilliant triumph against South Africa in Soweto two week ago.

Beforehand Springboks captain Jean de Villiers said of the All Blacks: "It scares the living daylights out of me, thinking how far they can go … They may eventually set the record at 23 Tests or something like that."

After the win, Richie McCaw said it was the best All Blacks side he had played in.

Before the Wallabies played their last Test, against the Pumas at Rosario, I suggested that a victory (which was achieved in a gutsy manner) would rank as one of the best in their history. A victory tonight would rank with the exhilarating NSW win over the 1937 Springboks at the SCG, which Evan Whitton described as "the greatest day in Australian rugby''.

A telling statistic of the modern All Blacks is that they have scored a try in their past 100 or so Tests. No other major rugby nation has come close to this record. New Zealand also almost invariably get into double figures on the scoreboard. The Wallabies have defeated the All Blacks only six times when the New Zealanders have scored 20 points or more.

In Soweto, South Africa received nine penalties in a row before the All Blacks won a penalty in the 55th minute. Despite this, the Springboks were swept away by an avalanche of points and tries in the second half. It makes some sense, therefore, that Deans has decided on a game plan tonight to attack the All Blacks and take the game to them: "At some point, to do well against them, you've got to take the initiative."

This is undoubtedly true, but the tactic has constant dangers as well as its occasional rewards. The Pumas played a tight, spoiling game in Wellington but the All Blacks scrambled to an unconvincing victory. In the return match at La Plata, the Pumas played expansively, as Deans wants the Wallabies to do tonight. They were thrashed. Attacking the All Blacks gives teams the best chance of defeating them but creates counter-attacking chances for them to exploit.

Scott Higginbotham argues "every side is beatable". Quite right. When the Wallabies defeated the All Blacks in 2010 it was their first victory over the old foes in 846 days. All sequences of victories end sooner or later.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 6vs GEO 0 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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