The Irish were on the wrong end of a 42-10 drumming by the All Blacks last weekend and a 23-point handicap looks more than assailable for New Zealand on Saturday, says Stuart Jones, who also takes a close look at Australia v Wales
"New Zealand looked good value for last week's 32 point winning margin and can be expected to confirm their superiority by overcoming a handicap of 23 points this Saturday."
Last Saturday's 42-10 loss at Eden Park extended Ireland's dismal record against the All Blacks to 25 games without a win, and there is little cause for optimism ahead of the second test in Christchurch this weekend.
Whilst Ireland had the benefit of several warm-up games ahead of the first test, New Zealand were playing their first competitive game since winning the World Cup Final in October, so are entitled to step up on last week's performance, especially in front of a sell-out crowd at the Christchurch Stadium.
Declan Kidney has made four changes to the side that started last week, with Gordon D'Arcy replacing the injured Keith Earls at inside centre and Mike Ross coming in for Declan Fitzpatrick at tight-head prop. Ross should strengthen up the Irish scrum, but it is a long time since D'Arcy shone at international level.
New Zealand looked good value for last week's 32 point winning margin and can be expected to confirm their superiority by overcoming a handicap of 23 points this Saturday.
Wales put up a better display in Brisbane but nevertheless also tasted defeat, going down to an 8pt defeat at the hands of Australia. They will be looking to do a little better at the 'other' Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Although not disgraced, Wales were always one step behind the Australians and only really came into the game through a period in the second half where Alex Cuthbert ran riot. Other than that short period of good play their opponents, and Will Genia in particular, appeared to be well on top.
This time around, however, there is some cause for Welsh optimism. The injury to young talisman George North has cleared up and he is fit to take part, which adds a great deal of potency to their backline. Ryan Jones adds experience in the back-row, in Faletau's absence, and Ashley Beck comes in at centre. Wales will need to start much better, but there is no doubt that as the game opens up they have the backline personnel to really cause Australia issues.
While I don't quite see them having enough to win the game I imagine this one to be even tighter than the first game and will take Wales with a 6.5 point head start.