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Andy Burt

Andy Burt is a Wellington-based writer for allblacks.com and co-host of the All Blacks Podcast. He covers all levels of the domestic game in New Zealand and monitors the international game closely.

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Australia’s keys to success at Eden Park

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Andy Burt     23 Aug 2018     Getty Images

After being thumped in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney last year, Australia were only denied in the closing moments by a Beauden Barrett try in the second Test in Dunedin before taking out the third Test in Brisbane.

QUICK TAP: WALLABIES NEED TO HOLD THEIR NERVE - CHEIKA

All in all, the Wallabies were just mere moments away from snatching the Bledisloe Cup out of the All Blacks hands for the first time in over a decade.

There’s no denying that Eden Park is the last place the Wallabies want to go to keep the series alive. But as Steve Hansen said after the Sydney victory, you don’t win the Bledisloe Cup with one Test alone. "They'll want to build bigger and longer momentum patches, they'll tidy their lineout for sure and they're a hungry side,” Hansen said.

The Wallabies know they are just 80 minutes away from squaring the series and forcing a much-anticipated decider in Japan later this year. To do that, here are five keys they are sure to bring to the game.

What Eden Park?
The Wallabies haven’t won a Test match at Eden Park since 1986 and the All Blacks have not lost at their fortress since 1994. It’s a record that seems to play mind games with any opposition team that steps foot on the ground. The Wallabies need to remove the Eden Park factor from their heads and treat this Test as though it was played at any other ground in the world. After all, it’s just a patch of grass 120 metres long by 70 metres wide – no different to anywhere else in the world.
Determined defence
For 38 minutes in the first Test, the Wallabies held the All Blacks try-less. They were determined, energetic, tenacious and fast off the line. The defence fell away in the second half as the All Blacks found their attacking groove and ran in five tries. The energy and speed off the mark was gone and the All Blacks prospered – particularly on counterattack. The Wallabies need to bottle what they did in the first 38 minutes in Sydney and spread it over the full 80 minutes at Eden Park.

Line out lessons

It’s tough to win a Test match when you lose seven of your own lineout throws – let alone when you are playing against the All Blacks. After being exposed at lineout time in the first Test, Australia would have been working overtime at their Waiheke Island base this week to fix the frailties. The Wallabies need only glance back to June where they matched Ireland’s much-vaunted pack at set-piece time to know that they can compete with the All Blacks. Wallabies line out leader Adam Coleman said he was hurting after the first Test but is confident his side can turn it around: “The pleasing thing is that if we all do our own individual role we will improve drastically in that area," Coleman said.
A flying Koroibete
Out wide, Australia have as much gas, fire-power and game breaking ability as any side in the world. But there was a slight feeling in the first Test that they didn’t back themselves as much as they could have. An example of this was when flyer Marika Koroibete made a break late in the game. He had only Beauden Barrett to beat as the last line of defence, but instead of taking him on, Koroibete kicked the ball in-field where the move broke down. The Wallabies need all their game breakers to cut loose if they are to challenge the All Blacks well-structured defence.

Midfield focus
The Wallabies will look to play to their strengths and take inspiration from their big-name players. The midfield combination of Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge are proven and proud performers who offer a tricky proposition to the new-look All Blacks midfield combination of Ngani Laumape and Jack Goodhue. Beale is a mercurial runner and genuine game breaker while Hodge is a hard-running centre with a strong fend. The Wallabies duo will take it on themselves to make a big stamp on the game and spread that confidence around the rest of the side.

It’s a trans-Tasman double header at Eden Park on Saturday 25 August with the Black Ferns taking on the Wallaroos at 5pm before the All Blacks face the Wallabies at 7.35pm. The double header is sold out with gates opening at 4.30pm and coverage live on Sky Sport in New Zealand.