With the 2018 Super Rugby season now in the history books, focus shifts to the international landscape and the first Bledisloe Cup test between the Wallabies and All Blacks on Saturday night.
The Wallabies have not taken the time-honoured title away from the All Blacks since 2003 and they face another monumental task in taking down the world’s best team in 2018.
If they are any chance of pulling off the seemingly impossible, Michael Cheika’s men will almost certainly have to walk away from Stadium Australia triumphant, but they remain $4 outsiders to defeat New Zealand ($1.25) in Game 1.
It already hasn’t been a great year for Australian rugby and the Wallabies enter this Bledisloe and Rugby Championship series off the back of a 2-1 series loss to the touring Ireland in June. Signs looked promising for the young Australian squad when they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in Brisbane, but they simply failed to go on with the job and were outclassed by the Northern Hemisphere’s best when the pressure went on.
A good portion of the Wallabies’ squad will take plenty of confidence into the international arena following the Waratahs’ decent performance in the dying stages of the Super Rugby, but this obviously is a far bigger task and they’ll need to find form instantly if they are any chance of breaking the lengthy drought.
The return of Matt Toomua is sure to add plenty to the Australian backline, particularly with a couple of other key players under injury clouds. This does look to be the most experienced backline that Australia has fielded in quite some time and that could prove vital to the team’s overall success.
After the World Cup, the Bledisloe Cup is easily the most important trophy that the All Blacks play for and that has been mirrored by their utter dominance since the turn of the century.
The losses of Dane Coles and Sonny Bill Williams have been adequately covered by the inclusion of Liam Coltman and Ngani Laumape, while Hurricanes big men Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Vaea Fifita have been replaced by the in-form Tim Perry and Jackson Hemopo.
New Zealand did enough to beat France 3-0 in their June test series and perhaps the most worrying thing for Australia is that they did it without captain Keiran Read and lock Brodie Retallick, both of whom resume national duties from Saturday.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has some how arrived at the conclusion that his side will enter this game and series as underdogs but understandably, they do remain clear and justifiable favourites in betting.
2018 Bledisloe Cup Betting
The All Blacks look extremely difficult to beat and they are subsequently clear favourites in head-to-head betting ahead of Bledisloe 1. This is undoubtedly Australia’s best chance of winning a match in the 2018 Bledisloe Cup series and they are worth consideration to cover a line currently set at 10.5 points, however.
Tip: Wallabies at the Line (+10.5)
There’s plenty of value to be found deeper in Bledisloe betting and particularly, the First Scoring Play market. The likelihood of New Zealand opening the scoring is high and if they are in range, a penalty ($3.25) is almost certainly going to be the option. Should the Wallabies be caught on the back heel early, however, a try ($3.10) also represents terrific value. The latter remains favourite in this market.
Tip: First Scoring Play – New Zealand Penalty ($3.25)