New Zealand vs England – 2nd Test Betting Preview
The first test in Auckland saw the All Blacks squeak out a late victory as 23-point favourites.
For the second test this Saturday morning, odds makers have carved off ten of those points, making England 13 point underdogs (20/[email protected]).
While that is a hefty difference, there may still be value on the England side.
Firstly, bookmakers like to stick to their numbers. To move a line ten points from one week to the next is an admission of failure. Move it anymore and that linemaker will have his boss peering over his shoulder.
Secondly, England have called in their Premiership final reinforcements in key positions. Six Nations stalwarts Owen Farrell and Danny Care will renew their vows as the half back pairing, while Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees will man the midfield.
Joe Marler told ESPN that the increased competition has lead to an extra edge in training.
The stout performance last week also instilled belief in the England squad – something that was absent after losing 11 of their last 13 in New Zealand.
"We went into the game at Eden Park having spent the build-up trying to get rid of this All Black myth or aura of how they are invincible" said Marler.
“We respect them as a team, know they have several world-class players and know they are world champions.
“But Saturday helped us even further. Now we can go toe-to-toe with these guys and if we want to win we need to go that extra step".
Even the New Zealand press has some new-found respect for the Red Roses.
One native article read: "The killer touch was missing but England rumbled so impressively at times over Eden Park that it is easy to see them lining up for next year's World Cup in pole position to win the crown.”
Indeed England did more than just rumble around the park with their monster pack – they ran more metres with ball in hand than the All Blacks (361 vs 311) and made three more clean breaks.
It would be naive to expect New Zealand to display such a conspicuous lack of flair and energy for two weeks in a row.
As their coach Steve Hansen put it: "If I dropped everyone who had a bad game last week, I wouldn't have a team left."
However, England's improvement should more than match that of the All Blacks – I predict another small loss for England, but an easy cover of the spread.