Same Eddie Jones, same problems as Australia humbled by rampant New Zealand

Rieko Ioane, right, scores a try in front of Australia's Jordan Petaia

Rieko Ioane scores for New Zealand as the All blacks turn the second half into a cakewalk – AP Photo/Hamish Blair

By Charlie Morgan

Eventually, any bombast was made to look rather silly because Australia were second best by some distance. A 31-point victory did not flatter the All Blacks, who scored six tries without really leaving third gear and seem to be timing their World Cup run beautifully.

Prior to this Bledisloe Cup opener, played out in front of 83,994 fans, Eddie Jones suggested that the New Zealand economy would tank if the hosts won at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia’s head coach could also be seen fronting a series of amusingly bullish adverts.

In one, set in a barber’s shop, he had a trim and promised that the Wallabies would not be heading to France later this year merely to eat croissants. Unfortunately, his team crumbled like pastry in the face of markedly superior opponents.

We know that Jones relishes World Cups. Australia have a favourable draw and, in defiant patches on Saturday evening, produced a performance that hinted at an effective template to bring into the tournament. The Wallabies defended wholeheartedly in the first half, with Will Skelton and Marika Koroibete winning turnovers to foil New Zealand attacks. In possession, they pared things down and took an extremely narrow tack.

All Blacks hoist Bledisloe Cup at the MCG

The All Blacks celebrate with the Bledisloe Cup after routing Australia – MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images

They boast a fleet of powerful runners and sent them surging close to breakdowns, either off the shoulder of scrum-half Tate McDermott or with direct pick-and-gos as Carter Gordon pushed flat. After Shannon Frizell had put New Zealand 5-0 ahead, Australia hit back. Angus Bell muscled over the gain-line, Mark Nawaqanitawase slipped through three tackles into open space and the Wallabies stayed patient within close range. The Wallabies took the lead after Jed Holloway helped Rob Valetini shunt over.

England fans will be familiar with displays that begin purposefully before drifting off, as though the smaller details are not quite nailed down and the side cannot stay in sync when the pressure ratchets higher. Australia resisted New Zealand’s punchy phase-play, which continued to demonstrate the hallmarks of Joe Schmidt, until Codie Taylor benefitted from a pushover five minutes before half-time. Then the Wallabies unravelled.

Gordon, starting at fly-half for the first time, failed to kick his restart past the 10m line. New Zealand’s scrum, an underrated weapon, flexed its muscle. Allan Alaalatoa, the Australia captain, slipped and suffered a serious injury that will probably derail his World Cup. On the stroke of half-time, thanks to robust work from forwards like Scott Barrett, New Zealand’s backs flooded through to release Will Jordan.

Australia's Allan Alaalatoa is driven off the field

Allan Alaalatoa suffered a serious injury – AP Photo/Hamish Blair

The third quarter was characterised by the Wallabies failing to convert pressure into points – another reminder of Jones’ time with England – and Taniela Tupou also left the action due to injury in only his second appearance since returning from an eight-month injury lay-off, depriving Australia of a second front-line tighthead prop and perhaps their most dynamic carrier. From there, the All Blacks pulled away. Caleb Clarke burrowed across from close range and Jordan stood tall to release Mark Telea with a nonchalant offload. That led to a stunning break-out, sparked by a charging Scott Barrett and finished on the opposite flank by Rieko Ioane.

New Zealand will keep the Bledisloe for a 21st year and sealed their third consecutive Rugby Championship title, appearing infinitely more assured than they did as Ireland ousted them in an absorbing series 12 months ago. Indeed, the game reinforced the lopsided nature of the World Cup draw; not that the All Blacks will be too intimidated by anyone in this mood. Ardie Savea looked particularly hungry.

Australia, on the other hand, will have noted that Fiji beat Samoa on Saturday to continue their promising preparations. Georgia, another set of rivals in the same pool as Wales, are sure to size up a Wallabies scrum that will need reinforcements.

Jones conceded that it was “hard to be positive about a scoreline like that” and must improve his team’s discipline – Koroibete and Tupou were both sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes – as well as tidying up an uncertain kicking game. He has now won just five of his past 15 Test matches stretching back to the 2022 Six Nations. Dunedin beckons next, before Australia’s last warm-up against France in Saint Denis.

It is conceivable that Jones will begin the 2023 World Cup against Georgia with a record of five losses from five matches in this second spell as Australia head coach. The bombast will continue; it just may be even less convincing.

Australia vs New Zealand: as it happened

01:32 PM BST

The All Blacks storm to a 38-7 victory over Australia to retain the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship

The All Blacks stormed to a 38-7 win over a sore and sorry Australia on Saturday to seal a third consecutive Rugby Championship title and enjoy a major boost before the World Cup in France.

The victory also ensured the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested by the trans-Tasman nations, will stay in New Zealand for a 21st year in succession.

In front of heaving crowd of 83,944 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, winger Mark Telea grabbed a try in each half, while Shannon Frizell, Codie Taylor, Will Jordan and Rieko Ioane also crossed for the All Blacks.

Australian hopes that Eddie Jones might engineer a turnaround in his second stint with the Wallabies have proven forlorn, with the team winless from their three games in the truncated Rugby Championship.

The loss was further soured by an apparent Achilles injury to veteran Allan Alaalatoa, while fellow prop Taniela Tupou suffered a rib problem.

The Wallabies may be licking their wounds tonight, but they face a quick turnaround ahead of the return fixture on 5 August.

01:22 PM BST

Australian reaction: ‘We’ve let down Eddie and we let down Australia’

Speaking after the game, Australian team captain James Slipper said Australia fell short in the second half.

“That first half was an extremely tough encounter. We were giving it our best but we fell short in that second half and you guys ran away with it.

“We’ve clearly got a lot of hard work in front of us but I’m confident in this group. We keep putting our heads down and working hard and we’ll move forward.”

Prop Angus Bell, who looked stricken in his post-match interview, said: “It’s hard to let down all the Melbourne people that came out to watch us.

“We trained pretty hard this week to put out a good performance. We’ve let down Eddie [Jones] and we let down Australia.

“They’re a great side, and to beat them you have to be brilliant.”

Tate McDermott added to the tone of disappointment around Australia’s performance.

Speaking after the final whistle, the scrum-half said: “83l people showed up tonight to support us and we didn’t give them much.”

However, the starting nine had some clear ideas about how his side can improve moving forwards.

“When we’re direct we’re at our best, we just didn’t do that enough tonight,” he said.

“Defensively we need to chop more. Too many times we’re going high and they’re getting over the ad-line, offloading and going in behind us.”

01:11 PM BST

New Zealand post-match reaction:

New Zealand winger Will Jordan praised Australia for fronting up in defence.

The 25-year-old said: “The Wallabies were extremely physical in that first half especially

“We exerted a lot of energy in that first half just trying to go through. They fronted up pretty well in D [defence].”

The try-scorer said the All Blacks defence was key to sealing victory.

“Defence has been a huge thing for us this year, so its great to see that effort going into those big moments,” he said.

01:02 PM BST

Final score: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

The All Blacks win a penalty and Richie Mo’unga kicks it into touch to bring an end to proceedings.

New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup for yet another year in a statement victory.

12:58 PM BST

80 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

Australia remain pined back on their line with minutes to go, but withstand thee pressure to win another penalty and clear.

Is there one last chance here for the Wallabies as the clock goes into the red?

12:56 PM BST

76 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

There’s still time for late drama here. Both sides still look intent on creating opportunities, but New Zealand are firmly in the driving position.

A counter-attack gives Dalton Papal’i a run down the left-hand side. New Zealand ship it back and forth, kicking and passing as they please, but the ball eventually the ball spills to Australia.

Nearly disastrous for Kerevi as the scrum-half pass flies high over his head. But the experienced winger jumps and then keeps his cool to step round the advancing defender and clear his lines.

12:52 PM BST

74 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

Try disallowed for New Zealand.

Richie Mo’unga puts in a smart kick down the middle to split Kerevi and Koroibete.

Koroibete chases back and falls on the ball but fumbles, allowing Mo’unga to go over.

But the referee sensibly rules that Mo’unga has played the Australian winger without the ball, and Australia are given a let off.

12:49 PM BST

70 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

There may be some fight left though in this Australia side.

Izaia Perese bursts through a gap before breaking into stride. Eventually the ball spills out and New Zealand thump it back down field.

But the ball is still in play here, and both teams look exhausted, yet neither wants to put it out.

The All Blacks steal back again and look to break through Telea, but he is tracked down by Koroibete.

Australia lineout.

12:45 PM BST

63 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 38

The try came from brilliant off-loading from New Zealand through Scott Barrett then Anton Lienert-Brown down the left flank.

There was a huge over-load for the All Blacks on the right and they shipped it across to Telea who offloaded inside to Ioane to finish it off. A super running effort.

Rico Ioane (right)

Rico Ioane (right) scores for New Zealand – AP/Hamish Blair

12:43 PM BST

63 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 36

Try New Zealand!

There may be no way for Australia to stem New Zealand’s momentum now.

Telea scores in the corner.

Burt New Zealand are off straight away from the re-start. Two tries back-to-back! This reporter can barely keep up…

Mark Telea (right)

Mark Telea (right) scores for New Zealand – AFP/Martin Keep

12:42 PM BST

62 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 26

Tupou challenge ruled not a yellow car in a small glimmer of hope for the Wallabies.

The new review system announced by World Rugby means the television match official checks the referees decision after awarding a yellow card to see if it should be upgraded to a red.

12:37 PM BST

58 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 26

Try New Zealand!

Heartbreak for the Wallabies. New Zealand use the left-side blind side well again to push up to the five-metre line.

Replacement winger Caleb Clarke gets the ball in his hands and puts his head down, powering over the line from close range.

Richie Mo’unga adds the extras from wide out. New Zealand lead Australia 26-7.

Caleb Clarke

Caleb Clarke emerges from a pile of bodies after scoring a try for New Zealand – AFP/Martin Keep

12:33 PM BST

57 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

Taniela Tupou has just been subsitituted, but the referee has called play back for a high shot from the prop.

Tupou is yellow carded meaning Australia’s replacement Angus Bell must leave the field.

12:32 PM BST

Nearly 84,000 people have turned out for the Bledisloe

83,500 spectators confirmed in the stadium today – the biggest crowd at an Australian rugby game since 2003!

It shows what this game means to Wallabies fans.

12:29 PM BST

50 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

Desperate times here for Australia.

Taniela Tupou appears to have an injured rib, but if Australia can’t find another prop, going off would mean they must go down to 14 men.

Tupou struggles on for the time being.

12:25 PM BST

50 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

More substitutions: New Zealand make changes in their front and second row, with veteran lock Sam Whitelock coming on for Retallick.

Meanwhile changes at half-back for Australia – Quade Cooper and Nic White come on to inject some magic and experience in this final half hour.

12:22 PM BST

50 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

Australian replacements: Rob Leota, James Slipper, Stephen Moore and Michael Hooper are on.

Tate McDermott takes a quick penalty but a masterful steal from the New Zealand skipper Ardie Savea saves his side.

Trouble here though for the Wallabies as Taniela Tupou looks to be in discomfort. The prop only came on for Alaalatoa towards the end of the first half, but he drags himself to his feet.

After a quick line-out, Australia have another penalty through New Zealand not rolling away.

12:16 PM BST

43 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

Scott Barrett makes a mess of the Australia maul to win a scrum for the All Blacks.

Word has come in from the commentary box about a potential ruptured achilles for Allan Alaalatoa. This is horrible news on the brink of the World Cup.

The rugby world will be wishing him a swift recovery.

Australia injury

Australia injury – AFP/William West

12:13 PM BST

41 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

Carter Gordon gets the game back underway for the second half.

Neither side has made any tactical changes yet.

A probing start from Australia with another ferocious steal from Skelton.

The All Blacks clear up field through the boot of Jordie Barrett but Australia play quickly.

The Wallabies push up field but play under advantage. After an attempted cross-field kick from Petaia, they come back for a penalty which they kick to the left-hand five-metre line.

12:04 PM BST

Half-time analysis:

By Charlie Morgan, Senior Rugby Writer

Well, Australia could not resist that trademark surge from New Zealand on the stroke of half-time and that will sting, because a lot of that half was encouraging.

Carter Gordon is learning that kicking errors really cost you at Test level. Ominously, New Zealand will feel as though they have another gear to hit. They have forced the Wallabies to make a mountain of tackles.

Mark Telea, the roaming wing, is leading the way on 13 carries but Scott Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Codie Taylor and Ardie Savea have amassed 46 carries between them. The hosts need to keep possession for a longer stretch of the second period… otherwise a heavy loss seems likely.

Mark Telea

All Blacks winger Mark Telea has the most carries in the game so far – AP/Hamish Blair

11:53 AM BST

40 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 19

All blacks try!

The All blacks are starting to assert their dominance here.

Mark Telea, looking dangerous once again, shrugs of multiple tackles to burrow deep into the Australian half.

The claxon has gone, but New Zealand have the ball and are up above 20 phases.

Eventually the ball moves down the line and ends up with a pass over the top to Will Jordan.

There are few better finishers in world rugby, and the winger makes no mistake.

Mo’unga takes the extras, and New Zealand go into the tunnel with some breathing room.

Will Jordan

Will Jordan scores – AP/Hamish Blair

11:50 AM BST

38 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 12

By Charlie Morgan

Huge passage here. Stay within five and Australia can be reasonably pleased with that half, despite having lost their captain to a serious injury. Concede again and it could get ugly.

It’s a big test of Carter Gordon’s character as well after a couple of mistakes. The fly-half has not been picked to be error-free. This early in his career, that would be unrealistic. However, he needs to keep his composure with three minutes until the break.

11:49 AM BST

36 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 12

More heartache for Australia as captain Allan Alaalatoa is down injured and a stretcher has been called on.

The prop twisted awkwardly in the scrum and looks in some discomfort.

This is a huge blow for the Wallabies, not just in this game but with the World Cup just over a month away.

The players all come over to wish their captain the best as he leaves the field.

This is now a massive moment for Taniela Tupou, coming back after eight months out injured, to make an impact on this game.

11:46 AM BST

36 min: Try! Australia 7 New Zealand 12

Disappointment off the restart for Australia as Carter Gordon fails to send the ball the requisite ten metres.

New Zealand go back for a penalty advantage at the scrum.

11:43 AM BST

33 min: Try! Australia 7 New Zealand 13

Try New Zealand!

A well formed driving maul from New Zealand gives Codie Taylor the ball at the back.

The hooker keeps him composure, letting the maul drive over the try line before breaking to touch down.

Mo’unga makes no mistake this time with the conversion, and New Zealand go back ahead.

11:41 AM BST

33 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

A scrappy few minutes but New Zealand have a good opportunity form a midfield scrum with the Wallabies a man down.

They get good quick ball with Jordie Barrett going over the gain line.

Again, Aaron Smith works the blindside to Telea who is bundled into touch but pops inside before going out of play.

The ball rebounds of an Australian hand, and it’s a New Zealand line out on left-side of Australia’s five-metre line.

The play pauses for a quick drinks break, and the Wallabies look like they are blowing hard.

Brodie Retallick

Brodie Retallick takes at the line out – AFP/William West

11:35 AM BST

27 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

Pressure from the Wallabies at the scrum and breakdown allows them to clear their lines. Another good opportunity for the All Blacks goes missing.

11:33 AM BST

Australia yellow card

But in the same breath, the All Blacks finally get some joy on the blindside with a half break from Mark Telea.

Aaron Smith dives for the line and is stripped, but the All Blacks have advantage.

After a line out, they win a penalty which Telea takes quickly before diving over.

Wayne Barnes rules it no try as Telea didn’t manage to tap the ball, but Marika Koroibete is given a yellow card for standing in an off-side position. All Blacks take the scrum.

Mark Telea (right)

Mark Telea goes over but fails to tap the ball but is called back – AFP/William West

11:27 AM BST

21 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

Kellaway makes a break on the right and the Wallabies have good front-foot ball.

Australia are pinged for going straight off their feet at the breakdown and the All Blacks clear up field.

The All Blacks will be frustrated with their inability to control the game so far.

The Wallabies have so far been wise to their high bombs and peppering of the blindside, while Mo’unga has barely had hands on the ball.

11:24 AM BST

19 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

Another penalty for the Wallabies at the breakdown allows them to clear their lines to just short of half way.

11:23 AM BST

18 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

Neither side has looked fully comfortable fielding the high ball so far.  It could be the wind swirling around the MCG.

Beauden Barrett looks to chip but is checked by Samu Kerevi, who gives away a penalty.

The All Blacks have line out ball inside the opposition twenty-two.

11:20 AM BST

15 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

Barrett gives his side front-foot ball with a trademark trip over the top to Will Jordan, who is looking dangerous already.

But the All Blacks are penalised for holding on with Rob Valetini standing firm over the ball.

The All Blacks will be frustrated with their performance at the breakdown so far.

11:18 AM BST

14 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

The penalities are mounting up  against New Zealand.

This time an infringement at the breakdown by Ardie Savea gives Carter Gordon his first shot at goal in a Wallabies jersey.

The young fly-half falters though, and the score remains 7-5. Perhaps a few nerves on show early here.

By Charlie Morgan

Unfortunate miss from Carter Gordon because that passage from Australia deserved a reward. On the back of two excellent defensive plays from Will Skelton and then Marika Koroibete, the Wallabies’ phase-play was really interesting. They played flat and narrow off their quick half-backs and really asked questions close to the ruck before earning a breakdown penalty. Can they keep this up? They’ve looked good so far.

11:16 AM BST

11 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5


Marika Koroibete flies across the field like a coruscating rocket to land a huge hit on Mark Telea and then challenge for the ball.

A big play from the winger to win a penalty which Australia knock down field.

11:14 AM BST

7 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

The game is being played at a furious pace so far.

A break from Will Jordan leads the All Blacks up to the Wallabies five-metre line.

But a timely intervention from Will Skelton steals the ball back for Australia and they clear their lines.

By Charlie Morgan

It was never going to be boring. Australia demonstrate the value of staying patient and sending power runners through New Zealand. Their patterns did not have to be completely tidy because they have so many exceptional athletes. Mark Nawaqanitawase shrugged off three men – Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Rieko Ioane – to make the initial break. From there, the Wallabies kept their composure and retained their accuracy nicely.

11:11 AM BST

7 min: Australia 7 New Zealand 5

A fantastic break from the Wallabies and they are piling pressure on the All Blacks line.

Marika Koroibete dives for the corner but his elbow is in touch.

However, the television match official goes back to check a possible grounding under the posts from Rob Valetini which is ruled good. Australia secure the extras to lead!

11:07 AM BST

2 min: Australia 0 New Zealand 5

A Wallabies mistake and the All Blacks score!

Scott Barrett reacts to the ball off the top of the line out to nail Tate McDermott, forcing the ball loose, and Shannon Frizell, was there to pounce.

Richie Mo’unga misses with the kick – the All Blacks lead 5-0.

By Charlie Morgan

It’s another victory for New Zealand’s crafty kicking game. They went high from Beauden Barrett and won back possession before Aaron Smith clipped a clever dink into Australia’s vacant back-field. That brought about an awkward line-out that Australia could not negotiate. Fantastic work from Scott Barrett and a perfect start for the All Blacks.

11:05 AM BST

2 min: Australia 0 New Zealand 0

Australia kick to New Zealand who receive around half way.

As has been their custom in recent games, New Zealand plug away at the blind side but a rare awry pass from Aaron Smith sends the ball into touch.

Australia win the line out but the ball ends up back in New Zealand possession.

After a quick exchange, Aaaron Smith spots some space in behind and kicks deep into the Australian corner.

11:02 AM BST

1 min: Australia 0 New Zealand 0

The stage is set: Australia accept the challenge of the Kapa O Pango haka while the All Blacks receive a boomerang from the Wallabies.

Wayne Barnes blows his whistle and Beauden Barrett kicks off. The Bledisloe Cup is underway!

From left to right: Ardie Savea, Riko Ioane and Codie Taylor

The All Blacks lay down the challenge with the Haka – AFP/Martin Keep

10:51 AM BST

The battle of the backlines

By Charlie Morgan, Senior Rugby Writer

There is such a contrast between how settled these two backlines are.

While Eddie Jones has assembled some exciting individuals, notably at half-back with a dynamic duo of Tate McDermott and Carter Gordon and on the right wing where Mark Nawaqanitawase has thrilled us, he does not have much existing cohesion.

New Zealand, on the other hand, appear to have found their World Cup groove. You have the familiar 10-15 axis of Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett with the latter’s younger brother, Jordie, now established at inside centre. Aaron Smith, almost 35 now, still oozes class.

The side as a whole seem to have really taken on Joe Schmidt’s meticulous methods, too. Beneath the bombast, Jones will know that the Wallabies have a huge task this evening.

10:41 AM BST

New Zealand’s lightning ruck speed

The All Black’s have lit up the Rugby Championship so far, stunning first Argentina and then South Africa with the speed of their play, particularly in the opening 40 minutes.

Indeed, the stats show the All Blacks have managed an average attacking ruck speed of 2.96 seconds during the Championship, the best of the four teams.

Meanwhile, Australia’s average attacking ruck speed of 3.61 seconds means they have been the slowest team in the tournament going forwards.

Speaking about how the battle at the breakdown played into Australia’s loss against the Pumas, Wallabies fly-half Carter Gordon said: “Our breakdown wasn’t where we needed it to be. We had a lot of breakdown errors, a lot of turnovers. So the last few weeks have been making sure what we’re really smashing down on that detail at the breakdown, and we’ve been working pretty hard at that.”

10:37 AM BST

Eddie Jones’ selection gamble

Eddie Jones has rolled the dice on his team selection, thrusting playmaker Carter Gordon into the No.10 jersey despite having just two caps to his name.

The 22-year-old Melbourne Rebels half back played 62 minutes at inside centre against Argentina last week following Len Ikitau’s shoulder injury, displaying a toughness in defence which has surely played a part in him taking Quade Cooper’s spot this week.

Yet piloting the Wallabies in such a huge clash, with 80,000 people expected at the MCG, represents a far greater challenge.

Speaking about his selection decision, Jones said: “If you look back at players, past great 10s, he’s got a bit of a mixture of Butch James defensively, like he’s a tough kid.

“Then he’s got that little bit of a glide that Larkham had.

“He can take the ball at pace, he’s got a good short passing game and he’s got a good long passing game.”

Jones also praised the young fly half’s ability to rise to the occasion.

“It’s a Bledisloe Cup game, it’s his home town, it’s the best place he can debut,” he said. “There [are] two things here, there’s the Bledisloe Cup and building for the World Cup. So I’m trying to do two things at once. This week’s the right one to do it and there’s no better time than against the Kiwis.”

10:31 AM BST

Eddie Jones’ suspect acting performance stirs up Aussie fans

Wallabies fans will be hoping Eddie Jones has put more time into preparations for today’s game than he has into his acting classes following the release of two new adverts produced by the Wallabies to try to stir up support ahead of the World Cup.

In the videos, the former England coach shows off his best acting skills, firstly in character as a door-to-door surveyor and then as a customer at the barbers.

In both videos, the message is clear: fans may have written off the Wallabies chances at the World Cup, but the team is there to win.

10:18 AM BST

Jones: All the pressure is on the All Blacks

Eddie Jones is no stranger to rugby mind games in the lead up to big test matches.

Famously, the former England coach accused New Zealand of spying on his team’s training session ahead of the 2019 World Cup semi-final, in which England went on to beat the Kiwis 19–7 in a performance for the ages.

Jones is still on the hunt for a first win in his new tenure as Australia coach. Yet despite a rocky start, for which he has come under fire from former Wallabies head coach John Connolly, Jones insisted that all the pressure is on the All Blacks.

In one of his trademark tub-thumping media performances, Jones said: “Imagine Saturday night, 85,000 people – their biggest rugby crowd since 2007 – and they’ve come to watch two teams that have got good respect for each other but, at the same time, they dislike each other,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing better than winning against New Zealand because you feel the country sinking.

“My history against New Zealand is important. It’s always the biggest game – you’re playing against the best in the world. When you’re playing against them, not many people think you can win, so that’s the opportunity for us.

“We’re developing, we’re moving along a pathway, but can we put the Kiwis under pressure on Saturday? Yes, under a lot of pressure – and maybe they’re going to get a bit of a surprise. We’re ready to go. We’ll see what happens.”

Psychological trickery aside, securing victory would be a mammoth achievement for the Wallabies. New Zealand have won nine games in succession and have lost away from home only once since being defeated by South Africa in Mbombela at the start of their 2022 campaign.

04:52 PM BST


Australia Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Carter Gordon, Tate McDermott; Angus Bell, David Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Will Skelton, Jed Holloway, Tom Hooper, Rob Valetini. 

Bench  Jordan Uelese; James Slipper; Taniela Tupou; Richie Arnold; Rob Leota; Nic White; Quade Cooper; Izaia Perese.

New Zealand  Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea (captain), Dalton Papal’i, Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Tyrell Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot.

Bench  Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tui’ingafasi, Nepo Laulala, Samuel Whitelock, Luke Jacobson, Cam Roigard, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke.

04:50 PM BST

Preview: The most important game of the year

Hello and welcome to The Telegraph’s coverage of the Wallabies vs the All Blacks.

Both sides are without their regular captains when they meet for the first time this year in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship Test in Melbourne.

Michael Hooper is out of action with a calf injury while All Blacks captain Sam Cane has a neck strain so Ardie Savea will captain New Zealand for the fifth time while prop Allan Alaalatoa will lead Australia.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made seven changes for the match as the Wallabies seek their first win of the season after defeats by South Africa and Argentina.

Cane’s absence causes the only change to the New Zealand XV that beat the world champion Springboks 35-20 two weeks. Scrum-half Cam Roigard has been named to make his All Blacks debut from the bench.

Fly-half Carter Gordon starts for the Wallabies in the first rugby Test at the MCG since 2007. also included are Jordan Petaia at outside centre, Andrew Kellaway at full-back alongside Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase named on the wings. 

Angus Bell’s strong performance as a finisher against Argentina in Sydney two weeks ago has seen him change roles with James Slipper against New Zealand, linking up with hooker David Porecki and tighthead prop Allan Alaalatoa who have started both games so far this test season. Taniela Tupou will also make his return as the finishing tighthead.

The Wallabies hold a 2-1 winning record over New Zealand at the G and are expecting a crowd of 80,000 on Saturday night.

New Zealand are 2-0 in the Rugby Championship this year. This is the final match of that tournament and the first of the Bledisloe Cup. The teams play the second Bledisloe Cup match next Saturday in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“A young starting 15 and vibrant, experienced finishers will give us the 80 minutes we want,” Wallaby coach Eddie Jones said. “Wallaby Rugby versus New Zealand Rugby, it’s the most important game of the year.”

A victory will ensure New Zealand wins the Bledisloe Cup for the 21st year in a row.

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