Pat Byrne, blogger and “Game-in-a-box” creator writes:
With each team coming off a good win against the Second String-Boks, what was this one going to be like? The commentary around the game has been interesting. The Wallabies being called arrogant and not respectful after Beale’s comments. The age of the All Black squad versus the youth of the Wallabies. The fact the Wallabies haven’t won at Eden Park since before most of this Wallabies squad was even born.
Please note this was an All Blacks home game at Eden Park but I will have all Wallabies games with them in the upper half of the Game Tempo section.
The Wallabies came out aiming to spread it wide early and play the game fast and with width it would seem. But the All blacks were ready and with their up in your face (slightly off-side perhaps) defence, Cooper had his options crowded and rushed. It was probably the plan, but Cooper seemed to be standing deeper than he normally would in order to challenge the line. But it stifled his play somewhat I reckon. He is good in traffic and doesn’t need much space, so long as that traffic doesn’t get the opportunity to react before he gets to them.
However, after all the talk about this young Wallabies squad not respecting the All Blacks, it seemed to me that is exactly what happened. They didn’t respect them enough and they were too fancy, too early. In Rugby League there is this concept that you need to first dominate the ruck with go forward before you can let your backs loose. I sometimes think this applies to Rugby Union and this game demonstrated exactly that I felt.
The All Blacks scored their first try through Nonu after some good lead up. How do you actually stop a guy of that size from one metre out and when he is that low? Answer … you can’t!
The All Blacks dominated for most of this half from that point with a long period from about 10 minutes through to 20 minutes and a big bit of domination from about 27 minutes to 33 minutes. The second half story was similar except the All Blacks kept up a constant pressure and the Wallabies scored largely against that overall dominance. That first Wallaby try was from a turnover and it showed just how dangerous Beale and Ioane really are. Beale hitting a Genia pass at pace, that is what started it.
It looked like they might get back into the game a bit but the Wallabies blew it with a soft try to the All Blacks straight from the kick off. The restart was gathered in by the All Blacks with Smith going down the right side to give it to Sivivatu who scored. There may have been a knock on in the regather from the kickoff, but that is no excuse for the Wallabies going missing in defence. I have marked this as a turning point. Before this, the Wallabies looked like they just might start a comeback … but if you want to do that you can’t go to sleep! AND you can’t go to sleep against this wily old All Black side. They know every nuance and rhythm of a game. The Wallabies scored the last try, with some good work down the right side. But it was too late.
The All Blacks dominated all over the paddock. That domination was characterised by aggressive defence and aggression at the breakdown. Their physicality was certainly higher than the Wallabies so Deans needs to get them fitter and stronger and/or put some different cattle on the paddock. Higginbotham is a must and perhaps instead of Elsom. Big call for Deans but Horwill could be a better Captain. Elsom seemed to go missing at times and his hanging out on the wing defies logic I think. He bombed a try in the 18th minute on the left wing. There was some big space and he wasn’t fast enough to make it count and the spaced closed. I noted in the 27th minute … “Wallabies looking a bit wobbaly and this is where Elsom needs to stand up.” But I didn’t see any signs of him doing that. The last Wallaby try was scored by him out on the right wing. What was he doing there again?
BUT … and here is the slight promise. The Wallabies scored two tries to three despite being dominated. Possession was around even with the All Blacks 52% to the Wallabies 48%. The Wallaby scrum wasn’t pushed all over the park. BUT … the All Blacks dominated 6.50% for the first half, 9.00% for the second half and 7.75% overall. In fact that domination almost exactly reflects the score ultimately. BUT … that score could have been different. O’Connor missed nine points with three misses from three attempts.
The All Blacks were the better side by a good margin and have put a bit of a wobble into the Wallabies World Cup campaign and sent a message to the rest of the world.