Law change on hold for Tri-Nations

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The Independent Online

A number of law changes introduced by the International Rugby Board will not take effect for tomorrow's Tri-Nations match between New Zealand and Australia.

A number of law changes introduced by the International Rugby Board will not take effect for tomorrow's Tri-Nations match between New Zealand and Australia.

The IRB has granted dispensation for all three remaining Tri-Nations games to play under the old laws - even though the new rule book came into effect on Tuesday. Changes include a 60-second limit for an attempted penalty kick at goal and a ban on line-outs taking place within five metres of the try-line.

Officials from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa lobbied the IRB, requesting that the new laws should not affect this season's Tri-Nations as the tournament was already half-way through. The IRB agreed and dispensation was awarded to tomorrow's game here, South Africa against New Zealand on 19 August and the Springboks' match with Australia a week later.

Australia and New Zealand have both shown attacking flair, but the Tri-Nations series and the Bledisloe Cup could be decided by which nationshows the strongest defencetomorrow.

Both sides have respect for each other's attacking ability, after 10 tries were scored in their classic last month in Sydney, won 39-35 by New Zealand.

"They're very well balanced, a very good attacking unit and one of the issues with the All Blacks is that, if they get half a break, they generally tend to score," said the Wallabies coach, Rod Macqueen.

New Zealand lead the competition with two wins and nine points to Australia's one win and six points. South Africa have yet to muster a point.

Australia must win to stay afloat in the event, as well as retain the Bledisloe Cup, and they cannot afford a repeat of the Sydney match when they fell 24-0 behind after the first eight minutes.

On the All Blacks side, there is a strong desire to win back the Bledisloe Cup, as much as tie up the Tri-Nations in front of their 37,000 home fans.

"We've got a chance to get a big piece of silverware back," said stand-off Andrew Mehrtens, who said he has been working hard to improve his tackling. "I don't know if we can guarantee high scoring but I'd say both teams will attempt to play the same sort of game."

New Zealand: C Cullen; J Lomu; T Umaga, P Alatini, A Ieremia; A Mehrtens, J Marshall; C Hoeft, A Oliver, K Meeuws, T Randell, T Blackadder (capt), N Maxwell, J Kronfeld, R Cribb. Replacements: L MacDonald, T Brown, B Kelleher, R Thorne, T Flavell, C Dowd, M Hammett.

Australia: C Latham; J Roff, J Little, D Herbert, S Mortlock; S Larkham, G Gregan; R Harry, M Foley, F Dyson, M Connors, D Giffin, J Eales (capt), D Wilson, J Williams. Replacements: B Tune, R Kafer, S Cordingley, T Kefu, M Cockbain, G Panoho, J Paul.

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