How Wallabies will respond

Michael Hooper carries the ball during last week's test between the Wallabies and the All Blacks....
Michael Hooper carries the ball during last week's test between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks learned the hard way last year that the Wallabies will respond to an opening Bledisloe Cup loss with a bit of fire and brimstone in the return game.

After a 54-34 thumping in Sydney in the first game last year, Australia were three minutes from victory a week later in Dunedin after they produced a creative and imposing performance that rattled and shook the All Blacks.

It ended up being a significant test for a relatively young and inexperienced All Blacks side as it provided a necessary reminder that test football never looks the same two weeks running, which is exactly the point head coach Steve Hansen has been making this week and indeed one he makes most weeks.

Australia will bounce back at Eden Park. That much should be taken as a given. Their shambolic lineout should be relatively easy to fix and if it does start wobbling, no doubt they will have worked on some easy to execute contingency options.

One of those will be to throw flat and hard to number two and the other will no doubt be to use Michael Hooper running on to a long throw at the tail.

Whatever happens, they are unlikely to experience a similar meltdown and with a supply of possession, they should be able to launch effective attacks from their lineout.

Fixing their scrum might not be so easy but the return of Scott Sio at loosehead and the promotion of Allan Alaalatoa to start ahead of Sekope Kepu could see the resistance increase.

The Wallabies are unlikely to find a way to shove the All Blacks around but they don't need to be dominant to be more effective than they were last week.

They just need to be able to hold for long enough to get the ball in and out without conceding a penalty.

And if they can hold the ball for longer, put more phases together, they will instantly become more of a legitimate attacking threat and the All Blacks would be well warned to expect that the Wallabies will indeed be better at winning and retaining possession.

"We are going to get one," was Hansen's answer when asked what kind of response he was expecting from the Wallabies.

"They are a proud rugby side and nothing has changed. I think they are a good rugby side and if you look back at the game, and are honest about it, they probably should have scored three or four tries.

"They just made wee mistakes whether that is because of fatigue or pressure from us, I am not sure. I think they will come out and they will play well and they will ask questions of us. That's why we have to play better than we did last week because we know they will and I don't think he'll [Wallabies coach Michael Cheika] be too worried about what the paper says."

How the Wallabies respond, though, has not been a major priority for Hansen this week.

The bigger thing for him is making sure his own side finds ways to lift their performance which had obvious flaws in Sydney.

The All Blacks' kicking game was virtually non-existent. They didn't use the boot of either Aaron Smith or Beauden Barrett to turn or pressure the Wallabies and the absence of Israel Folau for the visitors this week should encourage the All Blacks to launch a few contestable kicks.

Not everyone agrees that Ben Smith is best deployed on the right wing but he has shown that from that position he can be used as a specialist kick-chaser and that he is remarkably good at winning possession back in the air.

It wouldn't be a surprise either if they look to work more of their running plays off halfback Smith rather than Barrett - as they did in the first test against the British and Irish Lions last year.

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