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View from Down Under: Wallabies at Huge Odds to Turn the Tables on the All Blacks in Bledisloe Cup Opener

With turmoil off the field and mixed results on it, few would be brave enough to tip Australia to win its opening Bledisloe Cup encounter against New Zealand this weekend.

But given the fierceness and unpredictability of the trans-Tasman rivalry, few should be silly enough to write off a Wallabies victory over the All Blacks.

Australia has not held the coveted Bledisloe Cup for 15 long years and Australia’s recent successes against New Zealand have been few and far between.

The last time the Wallabies beat the All Blacks was 2015 and none of Australia’s Super Rugby teams recorded a victory against New Zealand opposition in the just-completed season.

Predictably, New Zealand is an almost unbackable favorite for Saturday’s test in Sydney, paying just $1.11 (-909) for the win, but plenty of Wallabies supporters will be ready to grab the $6.75 (+575) on offer for an Australian victory.

New Wallabies captain Michael Hooper chose to take a positive from Australia’s failure to get a team past the Super Rugby semifinals, saying his side has benefited from a longer than usual preparation.

“One of the positives of not being in the finals, I guess, was being able to get together so early and bond away from footy and do the hard work so far out from the games,” Hooper said.

Australia lost to Scotland and struggled to beat Italy in June and will need every bit of that confidence and preparation to upset the Kiwis.

The All Blacks trounced Australia 42-8 in Sydney last year before retaining the Bledisloe Cup with a resounding 29-9 win in Wellington and a 42-10 victory in Auckland.

One positive for the Wallabies is the fact that the British and Irish Lions managed to end their series level at 1-1 after finding chinks in the All Blacks defence.

The teams for the Australia-New Zealand test are due to be named Thursday, with kickoff at ANZ Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday.

In the AFL, the ladder-leading Adelaide Crows will have more than points on their mind when they host the in-form, fifth-place Sydney Swans on Friday.

The Swans ended the Crows’ season last year with a 36-point semifinal win at the SCG.

This week’s encounter will be the first time the teams have met since then and this time the Adelaide side has the bookie’s edge, paying $1.64 (-156) for a win and $2.25 (+125) for a loss.

Essendon’s late run at the finals should get a boost from its trip to the Gold Coast on Saturday.

The Bombers are a win outside the top eight and are coming off a loss to the Crows, but are the $1.33 (-303) favorites to take a vital win from the Suns.

Gold Coast, which went down to the Brisbane Lions last week for its sixth straight loss, is on $3.25 (+225) for an unlikely win.

St. George Illawarra’s NRL finals hopes are hanging by a thread and a must-win match at Brisbane will definitely be a tough one.