Punters have All Blacks' back

IF THE professionals are right the All Blacks have got Australia's measure on Sunday night.

While bookmaking agencies worldwide are set to hold tens of millions on Sunday night's game, most of the serious money will be on the men in black.

And the New Zealand TAB expects to be hit late and hard leading into Sunday's game.

While they are pushing the right buttons in the media by saying there has been a wave of punters taking the NZD3.30 ($AU2.60) offered for Australia to win Sunday's semifinal, in reality most of that money is small-time punters having NZD50 ($AU39) or NZD100 ($AU79) fun bets. The serious punters are far less swayed by emotion or media hype and are factoring in form and the Wallabies woeful record at Eden Park.

"We have had heaps of people backing Australia, but none for serious money," said the TAB's Mark Stafford. "It all adds up, which is why we have had to move Australia in from NZD3.30 ($AU2.60) on Monday to NZD3 ($AU2.36).

"But the big players, people we see betting big on rugby week in, week out are backing the All Blacks.

"And we expect more of that later in the week because a lot of those punters know the All Blacks are very, very hard to beat at Eden Park."

The loss of Dan Carter seems to have swayed punters little, with the All Blacks NZD1.35 ($AU1.06) price not greatly different from the NZD1.25 ($AU1) they were against the Wallabies in the test at Eden Park on August 6, when Carter was directing.

"That was the first time they had met this year and the Aussies had thrashed South Africa two weeks earlier. But this being a tournament we have seen each team develop and, the way they are playing, the All Blacks should simply win.

"Being a World Cup semi makes us a little more nervous about that, which is why we are offering NZD1.35 ($AU1.06) now."

While most Kiwis would find backing the Wallabies unpalatable they can have a few dollars on them getting an 8.5 point start, meaning you can still cheer for the All Blacks to win, but profit from a close game.

Still, points starts can be costly, just ask the punter who invested NZD100,000 ($AU78,709) on the All Blacks to beat Argentina by more than 26 points last Sunday and came up four points shy after the TMO turned down two All Black tries.

At least that punter got a run for his money. Another lost NZD60,000 ($AU47,225) on England to beat France, which must have been like having anaesthetic-free root canal surgery for 80 minutes.

The TAB finds itself in the almost unfathomable position of profiting if the All Blacks win the World Cup after there was heavy betting on South Africa, England and Ireland.

"But that could change next week," said Stafford. "Still, if Wales or France win the whole thing we will clean up massively."

Wales have not only become the fan favourites on the other side of the draw but also with punters, shifting into clear favourites after opening equal with France for Saturday's semifinal.

"A lot of people think France and fickle - and punters don't like fickle."

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