Australia will be eager to avoid a Bledisloe Cup whitewash when they face New Zealand in the third and final game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.
In the second Bledisloe Cup Test, the All Blacks bounced back from 17-0 down to beat the Wallabies 35-29 in Dunedin and retain the trophy.
The Wallabies put the All Blacks under serious pressure at numerous stages throughout that Test and they showed plenty of heart and X-factor on attack. However, in the end their goal-kicking, as well as their defence in the final 10 minutes, cost them dearly.
“We’re going to need to improve on everything that we’ve done,” said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
“We have improved this season but it’s all for nothing (if we don’t continue that).
“We’ve got to improve again to think about competing with this team.”It’s one of the best teams that’s every run out to play rugby over the last 5-10 years and to compete with that we’ve got to show our improvement and show our teeth as well.”
The All Blacks will also be looking to eradicate flaws in their game that were highly visible in the first half of the 35-29 victory.
New Zealand, who have dramatically improved their set-piece dominance in recent seasons, failed to converted these opportunities into points in the first quarter. They made 17 handling errors in the first stanza alone. Sonny Bill Williams, whose attacking prowess has been heavily criticised lately, spilled the ball four times during this period.
“From Australia’s point of view, they’ll be desperate to win as they haven’t done so for some time,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. “I don’t think after the Dunedin Test we can afford to be one or two percent off.”
Hansen also said New Zealand would “never be satisfied at where we’re at”.
“We’re always striving to get better every game and this week is no different,” he warned.
Despite the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship being wrapped up, both teams are clearly taking this Test incredibly seriously.
The Wallabies are desperate to restore some pride and top off their improvement throughout the season with a victory over the best team in the world. The All Blacks will look to emphasise their dominance with another victory, this time not allowing their opponents any breathing room as they did in Dunedin and most recently against the Springboks in Cape Town.
Australia must continue to defend well, this time for the full 80, convert their kicks at goal and ensure they continue their fine attacking form. New Zealand need to cut out the errors they make to compliment their bravery on attack. They must continue to dominate set pieces and be clinical when point-scoring opportunities present themselves.
2017: New Zealand won 35-29 in Dunedin
2017: New Zealand won 54-34 in Sydney
2016: New Zealand won 37-10 in Auckland
2016: New Zealand won 29-9 in Wellington
2016: New Zealand won 42-8 in Sydney
2015: New Zealand won 34-17 at Twickenham
2015: New Zealand won 41-13 in Auckland
2015: Australia won 27-19 in Sydney
2014: New Zealand won 29-28 in Brisbane
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 David Havili
Date: Saturday, October 21
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20:05 local (10:05 BST, 09:05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Egon Seconds (both South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)