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All Blacks and Wallabies set for ‘epic’ clash

The All Blacks and Wallabies are preparing for a no-holds barred showdown in their Tri-Nations clash being played here Saturday against the backdrop of the looming World Cup.

The top two teams in the world are both sides coming off solid bonus point wins against a hapless Springboks combination for what Wallabies coach Robbie Deans predicts will be an “epic” battle.

“There will be a lot of rugby played. Neither side is going to walk off the ground without having chanced their arm... they’ll do that because neither side wants to become second,” he said. At stake is the Bledisloe Cup, the trophy bitterly contested between the All Blacks and Wallabies annually, and the important opportunity to take a psychological advantage into the World Cup, which starts here next month.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said he was aware that history shows the All Blacks’ performance in the Tri-Nations “doesn’t count for a lot” at World Cup time but admitted it was hard not to think ahead.

“We’d love to have a good performance here. The last time in New Zealand before the World Cup and obviously at this stadium there’s a little bit of that and we’re pretty keen to go out and have a good performance.”

Eden Park, also the venue for the World Cup final, is the All Blacks fortress where they have not lost for 17 years. The Wallabies last won there 25 years ago.

AFP

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