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Nic Ladds 18th Sep 2009 - 16:29

New Zealand have the metal to avoid wooden spoon

While the Tri Nations crown may try telling New Zealand and Australia who have both been vilified by their own fans that there is nothing to play for, expect fireworks at 2/5 All Blacks entertain the 7/4 Wallabies.

South Africa ran away with the title, prizing it away for New Zealand who had won the previous four renewals and there is no way either side will want the shame of carrying the wooden spoon for a year.

These sides are very evenly matched which has been demonstrated in their previous clashes in this tournament with the All Blacks winning 19-18 with a last minute penalty in Sydney and by six points in Auckland.

In line with this, the handicap has been set with New Zealand giving up 6 points at odds of 10/11 which looks about right while Australia can be backed also at 10/11 receiving the 6 point start.

Home advantage could be the clinching factor in New Zealand's favour and punters could be wise to get winning margins of 1-5 points in favour of the home side at 5/1 on their side with 6-10 available at 9/2 and a narrow 1-5 points victory in the Wallabies favour at odds of 6/1.

New Zealand have won the last five encounters between these two but in a massive game for pride anything can happen and with the teams so closely matched just where will this game be won?

Despite the presence of Richie McCaw, Australia's pack may have the better of the break down with George Smith and David Pocock proving a handful week in week out as they showed during Australia's 21-6 win against South Africa.

The All Blacks have been woeful in the line out and this is an area that Australia will look to dominate although the home side have taken the measure of dropping Isaac Ross who has been calling the line outs throughout the season and replacing him with Tom Donnelly which could be genius or madness as the Otago lock is uncapped.

The most interesting battle though is Dan Carter against Matt Giteau which for fans will be a treat as we get to see the two best fly halves in the world go head-to-head in a tactical battle.

Both are nearly always on the money with the boot and will likely have a go from anywhere in opposition territory so a punt for first scoring play being a New Zealand penalty at 13/8 or Australia penalty at 15/8 would not be the most foolish bet.

Berrick Barnes will support Giteau well and could be on some people's lists for first try at 20/1 while Adam Ashley - Cooper also looks a decent bet at 16/1.

No Sitiveni Sivivatu for the All Blacks but Joe Rokocoko carries his usual threat at 10/1 to score first but at a bigger price Mils Muliaina has been the man for New Zealand on so many occasions and you wouldn't be surprised to see him get them off to a flyer at 14/1.

Australia do have a fair bit in their favour with possible dominance in the line outs and could also exploit the uncertainty New Zealand have shown dealing with up and unders, however the changes to the All Blacks side have come at the right time and on home turf the Wallabies face a tough ask.

This is going to be as fiercely contested as you can imagine and is likely to be desperately close with points with the boot possibly separating the side and therefore discipline will be paramount.

Both sides are going to have to take a long hard look at themselves after this tournament where neither has been covered in glory but it may well be Australia who have the onus of recovering from receiving the wooden spoon.


New Zealand to win by 1-5 points - 5/1

First scoring play Australia penalty - 15/8


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