Rajiv Maharaj picks out his best bets as the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship decider with the Bledisloe Cup on the line...
"The Bledisloe Cup means a great deal to the Kiwis, second only to the World Cup. "
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday August 8, 11:05
Live on Sky Sports 3 HD
Wesley Snipes knew what he was on about when he famously warned a gun-totting terrorist to "always bet on black" in the 80s action thriller Passenger 57. That advice is timeless when it comes to the All Blacks. The most storied rugby team on the planet delivered for us - straight up and by under 12.5 points - when edging the Springboks a fortnight ago.
They again look the goods against Australia in the Rugby Championship decider/Bledisloe Cup dual fixture in Sydney on Saturday morning (11.05 BST). The All Blacks, like all international teams, have been tinkering with selections and combinations in preparation for the World Cup a little over a month away. But that's not the case this weekend as coach Steve Hansen has named close to his best XV. The big guns are all in including Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Jermoe Kaino, International Rugby Board 2014 player of the year Brodie Rettalick, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Ben Smith (in his true position of full-back), and livewire half-back Aaron Smith.
The Bledisloe Cup means a great deal to the Kiwis, second only to the World Cup. They've held the trophy since 2003 and take great delight in denying Australian supporters year after year for what now seems an eternity. The match will also see skipper McCaw equal Brian O'Driscoll's Test appearance record with a 141st cap.
The Wallabies haven't been too bad themselves in putting away the Boks and Pumas in their last two Tests. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named a decent side, one arguably close to his best Test XV. Unfortunately, when he looks at the All Black team sheet he'd probably have to accept the Wallabies are playing an exceptional team. The Wallabies will be competitive but their best won't be enough. Bledisloe Cup games in Australia tend to be tight so backing the All Blacks to win by under 12.5 points at 2.6613/8 is the way to go. The straight up price of 1.46 is a tad short. Taking the All Blacks on the -5.5 points handicap at 2.001/1 is preferred.
Given the occasion, we also suggest two small side plays on the anytime tryscorer market. The All Blacks and Wallabies are teams that like to attack ball-in-hand, and quite often it's the back three who profit. All Black full-back Ben Smith has landed five tries from seven Bledisloe Cup fixtures. With that strike rate, the exchange price of 3.7511/4 to add to that tally is exceptional value. Smith's Wallaby counterpart, Israel Folau, has only scored twice from six Bledisloe games but his overall strike rate is 17 tries from 31 Tests. He's also worth a go at 3.505/2.
Back New Zealand to beat Australia by under 12.5 points @ 2.6613/8
Back New Zealand to beat Australia -5.5 points @ 2.001/1
Back Ben Smith anytime tryscorer @ 3.7511/4
Back Israel Folau anytime tryscorer @ 3.505/2