New Zealand has won 29 consecutive home Test matches since losing 29-32 to South Africa four years ago and a 30th straight victory in the land of the long white cloud looks like a piece of cake for the all-conquering All Blacks.
Australia is the team standing between New Zealand and its 30th home win in a row and, even though the Wallabies did show signs of improvement in their 54-17 win in Argentina that meant that they ducked the Rugby Championship wooden spoon, they are a long way short of their fierce rival.
New Zealand demonstrated with its 38-27 away defeat of South Africa in the final round of the Rugby Championship that it is a few grades better than every other international side. Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw attract the lion’s share of media attention but Kieran Read has been New Zealand’s star performer this year, picking up the man-of-the-match prizes in his team’s home win over Argentina and away win over the Springboks. Little wonder he captains New Zealand whenever McCaw is unavailable to pack down for the All Blacks.
Big-hitting punters will be interested to know that Bet365 and Betfred are offering odds of 1.13 that New Zealand beats Australia. New Zealand has been victorious in each of its last 15 home games versus Australia, with the Wallabies not winning on Kiwi soil since triumphing 23-15 in Dunedin 12 years ago. Couple that with New Zealand’s recent home record against allcomers plus the fact that the All Blacks defeated Australia 47-29 in Sydney and 27-16 in Wellington during the Rugby Championship and 1.13 does not look like a bad price.
Most betting action on rugby union matches centres on the spread. Bookmakers are asking New Zealand to give up around 14 and a half points, while punters who want to get with Australia can find 15-and-a-half-point starts. Sadly, those handicap lines look about the right given that New Zealand beat Australia by 11 points in Wellington in the second of this season’s three Bledisloe Cup encounters. So one has to look elsewhere for the best value opportunity.
Two possibilities spring to mind, the pick of which is an odds-on bet on New Zealand leading Australia at the end of both the first half and the second half. Several bookmakers, including 888sport, are offering odds of 1.33 that New Zealand lands the half-time/full-time double result. Only once in its 29 consecutive home Test wins has New Zealand not been in front at the break. Ireland led New Zealand 10-9 in Christchurch 16 months ago, although it took less than 60 seconds of the second period for the All Blacks to go ahead for the first time through an Aaron Smith try. And New Zealand has led at half time in 13 of its 15 home victories in a row over Australia. One could make a strong case for the true New Zealand half-time/full-time double-result odds being pretty close to the 1.13 mark.
Alternatively, if one does not want to bet at odds as short as 1.33, there are the various winning margins. Bookmakers are correct to favour New Zealand by around 15 points so there would be nothing wrong in backing the All Blacks to beat Australia by, say, 11-20 points at odds of 3.60 with Paddy Power. That play would have paid dividends in three of the last four Bledisloe Cup clashes staged in New Zealand.
While one recognises that long odds-on wagers are not for everyone, statistics point to the odds of 1.33 about New Zealand on the half-time/full-time double-result market being at least 10 per cent over the mark. And it is not as if New Zealand is about to face a vintage Australia side.