The battle for southern hemisphere supremacy is underway with the 2011 Tri Nation Series – the sixteenth annual Tri Nations Rugby Union series that features national teams from New Zealand (All Blacks), Australia (Wallabies) and South Africa (Springboks) and which, this year, serves as a precursor to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. And by all accounts, the competition hangs on the Bledisloe Cup rivalry between New Zealand and Australia, set to kick off on Saturday 6 August in Auckland.
The All Blacks the team to beat
The All Blacks go into the Tri Nations Series as the hot betting favorites to win, listed at -350. A market confidence that is underscored by New Zealand’s recent dominance over Tri Nations: the most successful team with ten titles overall, seven of which were clinched over the past decade including the title last year. To put a finer point on it, the title is theirs to lose.
By the same token, the Wallabies are significant underdogs in the competition tipped at +250, although not as large a bet as the Springboks that are listed at +3300.
On Saturday, the All Blacks will clash with a Wallabies side anxious to win back the title for the first time in a decade and the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002. In 2001, the Wallabies successfully defended the Tri Nations series title with a dramatic 29-26 win over the All Blacks in Sydney with Toutai Kefu scoring a try at the death.
Since then however Australia’s record against their archrivals isn’t a happy one. They’ve lost 20 of their last 26 meetings (21 of their last 30 meetings since the 2000’s) and that record frankly doesn’t augur well for an Aussie win on Kiwi turf.
Freewheeling Quade Cooper hopeful of Aussie chances
The competition two games deep now, both the All Blacks and Wallabies are undefeated; level on five points in the standings after each took a turn taking apart the Springboks. That the Wallabies are on equal footing with the All Blacks is encouraging, particularly for Wallabies fly half Quade Cooper, a player who personifies the attacking brand of rugby that has revived Aussie hopes and who has promised he will not hold back just because it’s the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Australia got the proceedings going with a crucial 39-20 win over South Africa but following New Zealand’s decimation of South Africa 40-7 in Wellington last weekend, the odds are stacked heavily in favour of a seemingly unstoppable All Blacks side. The All Blacks are tipped as the clear betting favourites at -450 while the Wallabies are listed at a significantly large +275.
Can Australia beat New Zealand at Eden Park?
Yes. The Wallabies can beat the All Blacks, despite the market cast on this pivotal meeting at the weekend.
The Wallabies have made it known that they hope to be the first Australian team to beat the All Blacks in Eden Park since 1986 and to keep hopes for the Bledisloe Cup and winning the world cup later this year alive.
Undoubtedly, beating the All Blacks with home ground advantage will be tough. Not for nothing are they held the best team in the current game; their quality and ability is unrivalled and Australia especially has proven to be shaky in recent years against one of the finest rugby offerings to come out of New Zealand.
Still Australia is buoyed after laying South Africa to waste, and they do seem bent on bruising New Zealand next – albeit one match win is hardly the measure of their credentials.
So if history and experience is against the Wallabies, should it preclude bettors from betting on them? Truth be told, it does make it a long shot bet. Not impossible. Just unlikely. That said, if the Aussies pull it off, it would be the quintessential upset to cash in on this week in the sports betting markets.
In any case, with the markets overwhelmingly cornered in the All Blacks camp, bettors should take this as an opportunity for some deliberate and strategic betting. Given the fast-paced nature of the game and the amount of tries seen in both their first games, betting on a high-scoring affair could be the smartest play at the end of the day.