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Too Hard To Put Onus On The Bonus

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA

Hamilton, Sept 10 NZPA - The history book, stodgy form and rugby bookmakers all agree -- the All Blacks' chances of scoring four tries against South Africa here on Saturday fall into the pipe dream category.

Even the weather gods are against New Zealand, who will need to transform their attack at Waikato Stadium if they are to snare a four-try bonus point and boost their slim chances of winning the Tri-Nations.

The All Blacks are currently enduring their leanest tryscoring season on record.

Through seven tests they have managed just 10 tries, including one each in the four Tri-Nations tests so far.

Never has the All Blacks' tally been so low seven tests into a year, with the next worst being the 12 they managed in 1978. Their worst return in the professional era at this point was 19, in 2006, a far cry from the 52 tries in the first seven tests of 1997.

New Zealand haven't scored four tries since their defeat of Scotland in Edinburgh 10 tests ago. And a winning bonus point has been beyond them in their last eight tests against the Springboks.

Another complication is the rain forecast for Hamilton on Saturday, ending a week of preparation in warm sunshine.

The TAB have priced the All Blacks as $1.50 favourites to win on Saturday but give them little chance of overhauling the nine-point gap enjoyed by the Springboks on the Tri-Nations ladder. The world champions are paying just $1.16 to win their third title.

All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen acknowledged the difficulty of scoring four tries. He said a greater priority would be to win and deny South Africa a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points.

They could then chase the competition crown with a sizeable, four-try defeat of Australia in Wellington next week.


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