All Blacks vow no let-up as they seek third straight win over Wallabies

Martin PARRY
·3-min read

Mighty New Zealand have vowed to lift their game even further in the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup Test on Saturday, in an ominous sign for Australia after their record drubbing last week.

The All Blacks produced a masterclass to seal the trans-Tasman trophy for an 18th straight year in Sydney, asserting their supremacy in a 43-5 rout -- their highest winning margin against the Wallabies.

After the first match in Wellington was a 16-16 draw, New Zealand ran away with the second winning 27-7 in Auckland.

Coach Ian Foster will blood four debutants in a match that doubles as a fixture in the Tri Nations also featuring Argentina, rebranded from the Rugby Championship after World Cup holders South Africa pulled out over coronavirus disruption.

But that doesn't mean the All Blacks will take their foot off the accelerator in Brisbane.

"It's a real focus for this team to try to keep lifting it's performance," said Foster. "I know it's tough, but that's what being an All Black is all about.

"We've been really delighted with the whole squad so we feel that there are some players who are really putting their hand up and deserve an opportunity," he added.

"It'll be another massive test so we've brought in some freshness and new energy into the group. Players are jumping out of their skins to get onto the park."

Last week's man-of-the-match Richie Mo'unga is rested with Beauden Barrett reverting to his preferred position at fly-half and brother Jordie replacing him at fullback.

Back-rower Akira Ioane is in the starting side for his maiden Test, with fellow newcomers Asafo Aumua, Cullen Grace and Will Jordan on the bench.

Ardie Savea returns from paternity leave at number eight, while veteran lock Sam Whitelock will make his 120th appearance -- and his 100th start, only the fifth New Zealander to achieve the feat.

The match will also see Wallabies prop James Slipper earn his 100th cap, although more than half of those have been from the bench. 

- 'Tough lessons' -

After being flayed by media and fans for their error-strewn performance in Sydney, coach Dave Rennie has demanded big improvements from the Wallabies.

A sloppy Australia conceded too many turnovers and failed to create opportunities, with "accuracy" the buzzword once again this week in camp.

"We were just way too loose with ball in hand and as we've learned in the last few Tests you can't keep handing the ball back to the All Blacks," Rennie said.

"They're tough lessons, but this is Test footie and we've got to treasure the ball," he added.

Rennie will take heart from Australia winning their last six Tests on the bounce at Suncorp Stadium, with their last defeat in Brisbane coming four years ago against England.

He has rung the changes, dropping fly-half Noah Lolesio after a torrid debut in favour of Reece Hodge, who usually plays wing or fullback. Experienced backs Matt To'omua and James O'Connor are both still out injured.

Elsewhere, veteran lock Rob Simmons takes over from the injured Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Tom Banks comes in for Dane Haylett-Petty at fullback.

Tom Wright got the nod for his first start over winger Filipo Daugunu, while Lachlan Swinton makes his debut at blindside flanker in place of Ned Hanigan.

Asked if he was confident the Wallabies could bounce back and win, Rennie replied: "Yeah, I am."

"A frustration for us is that we've lacked patience, or lacked communication, or lacked the accuracy to expose them," he added. 

"We need to be at our best to knock the All Blacks over and we need to play and apply pressure so they are not at their best. That's what we saw in Wellington and that's what we need to see this weekend."

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