The Eden Park record of New Zealand is such that one has to find a way to side with the All Blacks in their series decider versus the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.
New Zealand has played 38 Test matches against a range of opponents at Eden Park, the Auckland venue that is the spiritual home of All Blacks rugby union, since April 1995 and the Kiwis have won every single one of those games.
Rugby union has been officially professional since 1995, the year in which South Africa won the Rugby World Cup on home soil, Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar sharing centre stage as the Rainbow Nation came of age. New Zealand has won each of its 38 Eden Park matches in the professional era, a record that, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Actually, New Zealand is 38-1-0 in its last 39 Eden Park games because the All Blacks drew 18-18 with South Africa at the ground in August 1994, fighting back from a 9-12 half-time deficit.
One cannot see anything other than a New Zealand win over the British and Irish Lions provided that the All Blacks keep their full complement of players on the pitch, which was not the case last weekend when they failed to wrap up the three-match series in Wellington. Sonny Bill Williams received his marching orders for a shoulder charge that connected with the head of Anthony Watson, becoming the first New Zealand star to be sent off since 1967. That New Zealand only lost 21-24 despite playing with one fewer man than the British and Irish Lions for 55 minutes was a truly remarkable effort. It is common for a yellow card to result in the concession of a try in the 10-minute penalty period and, therefore, New Zealand being at a one-man disadvantage for 55 minutes should have been worth about 30 points to the British and Irish Lions. So, in many respects, New Zealand was more impressive in losing the Second Test by three points than it was in winning the First Test by 15 points.
New Zealand is odds on with bookmakers to win the Third Test but it is +102 with several firms, including 32Red, 888Sport and Unibet, to win both halves of the defining game of the series. Trawling through New Zealand’s Eden Park results since 1995, one found that the All Blacks have won both halves of 28 of their last 38 matches in Auckland, including doing the double nine times in their last 12.
Two weeks ago, New Zealand defeated the British and Irish Lions 30-15 in the First Test at Eden Park. New Zealand led the British and Irish Lions 13-8 at half time of that game so the All Blacks won the halves by five points and 10 points. That is the kind of result that one is expecting to see in the series decider back at Eden Park and one cannot comprehend why bookmakers think that it is a even-money bet. Admittedly, the British and Irish Lions is a stronger team than some of the sides that have encountered New Zealand at Eden Park but the All Blacks have a 73.68 per cent success rate in winning both halves of Eden Park matches since 1995 and that equates to odds of -278 . One thinks that the exotic option should be trading at odds no greater than -167 .
New Zealand to win both halves
Saturday 8th July, 08:35 GMT