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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

All Blacks primed to maintain superiority over Wallabies

Powerhouse Kiwi centre Ngani Laumape can justify selection with try

Waisake Naholo is part of a dangerous All Blacks backline in Tokyo
1 of 1

Rugby Championship
Sky Sports Action, 8.35am Saturday

New Zealand should be hard to stop in Auckland in round two of the Rugby Championship, their second tussle with Australia.

Last Saturday in Sydney, Australia were less than two minutes from holding the All Blacks scoreless in an opening half for the first time in 310 Tests since their 1991 World Cup semi-final.

Then New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith shuffled over after a move from the Aussie 10-metre line and even though Beauden Barrett missed the conversion, the dynamic of the showdown shifted.

After the break, the Wallabies' set-piece turned from steady to a shambles, rendering the brilliant Michael Hooper and David Pocock impotent at the breakdown while talismanic full-back Israel Folau hobbled off with an injury.

The second All Blacks try was a breakout from their own 22 after a turnover and their third and fifth touchdowns were kick-and-chases following Wallabies midfield handling errors.

New Zealand completed a 38-13 success and Australia head coach Michael Cheika has moved to address their scrum and lineout issues by bringing in Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio as starting props and Folau Faingaa as the replacement hooker.

However, it is hard to disagree with bookmakers' assessment that the All Blacks should be 1-16 to inflict a 22nd straight home triumph over the Wallabies.

Lingering afternoon rain and a blustery wind look the main dangers to the All Blacks giving up a 22-point handicap for a fourth straight meeting with Australia in the City of Sails.

But backing a winning margin of between 21 and 30 points appeals more as only one of the 17 clashes in Auckland since the last Wallabies win at Eden Park has been by more.

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen goes with the same pack who showed sensational skills in the loose at Stadium Australia without sacrificing any power in the tight and he has been respectful in his enforced backline changes.

Stalwart full-back Ben Smith has been switched to the wing for the hamstrung Rieko Ioane with the all-round skills of Jordie Barrett at 15 preferred to the pace of Nehe Milner-Skudder. Powerhouse Ngani Laumape gets the nod over the slick-handling Anton Lienert-Brown at inside centre for the concussed Ryan Crotty.

Laumape looks worth an anytime tryscorer wager at 2-1. He crossed for a try in his only Test start, last year's 15-15 draw with the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park, barged over for a beauty off the bench against France in June and has claimed 24 tries in the last two Super Rugby campaigns.

New Zealand to win by 21-30 points
1pt 10-3 Betfair
N Laumape to score a try
1pt 2-1 Betfred

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Home head coach Steve Hansen goes with the same pack who showed sensational skills in the loose in Sydney
E.W. Terms
Sky bet