The magic number that will deliver victory to the Wallabies

Kick for the corner, Hoops.

The All Blacks have lost 15 times in the past decade and the lesson from those losses is clear. If you want to beat them you have to attack, attack, attack.

Winning formula: The Wallabies scraped home 23-18 against the Wallabies in game three last year.

Winning formula: The Wallabies scraped home 23-18 against the Wallabies in game three last year.

The Wallabies need to be aiming for 30 points in Sydney on Saturday. If they get that, they’ll probably win. Anything less and they probably won’t.

It’s an astonishingly high bar that the All Blacks have set after the 2007 World Cup. Since then, they have been an attacking machine whose main goal it is to score points – a lot of points. The result is that the opposition’s likelihood of beating them now runs on a sliding scale of probability.

For example, in that 10-year period the All Blacks have conceded between 25-29 points on 14 occasions.
For most Test teams that would translate into a string of losses but of those 14 matches the All Blacks actually won eight of them.

To give you a comparison of how unusual that is, let’s look at the Wallabies’ record over the same period. They conceded between 25-29 points in 18 games over the past decade – but lost 13 of them. Go lower than than 25-29 points and your chances against the All Blacks fall even further.

Yes, you can still beat them when scoring between 20-24 but in reality it’s not likely. In fact, of the 18 games in which the All Blacks have conceded 20-24 points in the past decade, they’ve won 15 of those – 83 per cent.

Green party: Ireland hit 40 points in their famous win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016.

Green party: Ireland hit 40 points in their famous win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016.

So why is 30 plus the sweet spot?  Well, you get into that territory your chances of actually winning the game turn from negative to positive, in an emphatic way.

The All Blacks have conceded 30-plus points eight times in the past decade, and have won only two of those fixtures. It’s why the Irish kept attacking in Chicago in 2016 instead of trying to close down the game. That doesn’t work.

And when the English last beat them, in 2012, they did so by piling on 38 points at Twickenham. So the Wallabies have to be incredibly aggressive in Sydney: mentally as well as physically.

This is where captain Michael Hooper comes in. The Wallabies have to seriously consider if accumulating by three points is going to be enough.

There is a delicate balancing here of course, and each decision whether to aim for the posts or not will have it own context in the game, but broadly speaking the passive do not get rewarded against New Zealand.
You have to keep trying for seven points and keep applying the pressure even when it is ‘obvious’ you should take the three points.

There is often a lot of wisdom after the fact when teams go for five or seven points but fail to convert the chance but the statistics are actually quite definitive in this area – it’s comfortably worth the risk.
Indeed, having an attacking mindset is the Wallabies’ only choice this weekend and you’d hope they have been preparing accordingly.

Of course defence is important but you can spend too much time looking at an area where the All Blacks are strong (their attack) and not enough on the parts of the game where the Wallabies are strong (their attack).
It is here where the commentary on Reece Hodge has been a little bit upside down.

It’s not his defence that should be the concern, it’s his attack. Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani are very different players to Hodge and no doubt some of the Wallabies’ strategies this year were based around a big, ball-carrying No 13 smashing over the gainline.

That’s not really Hodge’s go. The other challenge is that the All Blacks have picked a very big man in No 13, Jack Goodhue.

There was an interesting picture posted this week of some All Blacks visiting the Bulldogs. Goodhue is pictured to the right of giant NSW prop David Klemmer. He’s not that much shorter, and probably more broad shouldered.

That emphasised the size of the Wallabies’ challenge on Saturday. But at least they know where the winning post is: it’s 30 points or more.

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