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Bledisloe Cup: Five things we learnt from Dunedin

A match that was to end in heartbreak for Australia, head coach Eddie Jones and his side will have still learnt plenty from their 23-20 Bledisloe Cup defeat to New Zealand in Dunedin.

Squandering a 17-3 lead at the break on Saturday will have hurt the Wallabies but great strides were made from the side that had suffered a 38-17 defeat in Melbourne the previous week.

What2023 Rugby World Cup
When8th September - 28th October 2023
How to watchStan Sport, Nine, 9Now
OddsNew Zealand 3.60, France 3.75, Ireland 5.50, South Africa 5.50, Australia 10.00

Defence still an issue

At Test level, a team that is leading 17-3 should be able to see out a victory. With New Zealand needing two converted tries at that stage to get themselves level, Jones will be disappointed his side could not get over the line at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Of course, the All Blacks don’t have a 22-year winning streak on home turf against Australia for nothing and the hosts showed just why they are so dangerous in the second half.

There were questions about New Zealand after some surprise defeats over the last couple of years but they are back as 3.60 favourites to win the 2023 World Cup, while Australia are 10.00.  

One of the main reasons the Wallabies are outsiders for the trophy is their problems in defence. 

Conceding 138 points over their last four recent games, Jones’ side have plenty of work to do on their game without the ball ahead of this highly-anticipated World Cup.

McDermott a leader for the future

Captaining the side in just his 25th cap for his country, scrumhalf Tate McDermott went a long way to justifying why Jones gave him the armband over more experienced players in the squad.

Jones spoke before the Test in Dunedin that McDermott can play a potential role in a new era for the Wallabies and the scrumhalf’s efforts at the weekend certainly provide hope for the future.

Pressure already on Jones

Brought back to the Australia set-up to bring new ideas to this Wallabies side, four defeats from four outings is obviously not the start Jones would have wanted.

His time as England head coach came to a disappointing end and now Jones is battling to put together an Aussie side seemingly in transition just weeks ahead of a World Cup.

Jones will be given time to turn things around but with pressure mounting on the back of a losing streak, this is not where Australia wanted to be leading into the major tournament.

Questions on starting halfbacks

With McDermott and Carter Gordon starting the last two Tests, there’s plenty of debate on who will be the first-choice halfback pairing for the World Cup.

The more experienced pair of Nic White and Quade Cooper were given the nod at the start of the Rugby Championship but were replaced after defeats to South Africa and Argentina.

It’s a positive Jones has two halfback pairings to choose from but which way the head coach goes remains to be seen.

Jones can build from narrow defeat

After a thumping in Melbourne, Australia can take more positives from their efforts in Dunedin.

The Wallabies have a good opening fixture for the World Cup on 10th September when they face Georgia.

Australia are 1.90 to win with -22 in the Line Market and it’s a game that should give the Wallabies a winning platform to build on for the remainder of the tournament.

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