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Awesome All Blacks And Woeful Wallabies

Awesome All Blacks And Woeful Wallabies

Awesome All Blacks And Woeful Wallabies

ABvAus_Aug192017_primary

THERE’S an IOU in the SKY TV studio.

It came from the time a good few years back, when Colin Meads was in for a panel discussion and his phone went off during the record.

Veteran camera op Col Laker, bravely pointed out to the big man that there was a standard fine of one case of beer for anyone who broke the rule about switching phones off before going to air.

Pinetree thought this was fair enough, and wrote out the IOU. It’s still there.

It’s there as a souvenir, not as documentation of an unpaid fine, because about ten days later a crate arrived.

Proof, if ever needed, that 1) Sir Colin Earl Meads was a man of the people, 2) that he thought beer was best from a quart bottle, and 3) that he always delivered.

The rest, as we all know, is history.

****
If the All Blacks performance in Sydney on Saturday night could be compared to a quart beer bottle, then it was about three quarters full, one quarter empty.

For about 50 minutes, the Men in Black threatened something quite extraordinary. 

They were so dominant it looked like they would threaten 70 points, for fans of both the ABs and Game of Thrones, it was like the dragons having their way with the Lannisters.

It was too easy.

They put the distractions of the week behind them, a combination of issues inflicted on the team by the wayward actions of individuals, no matter how long ago, exploited ruthlessly in a concerted campaign by the Australian media aimed at doing maximum damage.

There was also the untimely court decision which succeeded only in failing to prove that the All Blacks’ security agent himself planted the bug in the team room and left us no wiser as to who actually did. Well done, NSW Police. Nailed it.

What happened in that 50 minutes was mostly the All Blacks being good, but it was also the Wallabies being dreadful. 

Anyone who watched the Waratahs defending during Super Rugby will know that the strategy of defence coach Nathan Grey has more holes in it than a swiss cheese, and yet here it was being trucked out again and ripped apart on the international stage.

Michael Cheika appears convinced that Grey is his man, which might beg questions of Cheika’s judgement. 

He’d quite clearly got his run-on selections wrong, too.

It would be a help if he picked players capable of defending their own positions, but again we saw fly halves defending the wing, wing defending centre and so on. Samiu Kerevi might be Godzilla on attack but he’s a slug on D. Israel Folau and Curtis Rona made embarrassing slips defending the wide channels. 

Captain Michael Hooper was another culprit in an overpowered loose trio and it was only the sympathetic policing of the scrum by Wayne Barnes that kept their set piece in the fight.

Barnes was good for the most part until he got caught up in the Aussie fight back, allowing a Folau try that stemmed from a clear forward pass and ended with an offside, while he allowed his nervous TMO to bail out with a “simultaneous grounding” call when a close look at the replays confirmed Beauden Barrett got to the ball, albeit it only by a fingertip,  ahead of Bernard Foley.

Give the Wallabies some credit for their fightback, for sure.

Once they got Tevita Kuridrani on there was at least some thrust in the backline, although even that owed much to the withdrawl of the excellent Ryan Crotty from the game.

Kurtley Beale looked sharp, Henry Speight was dangerous, and when he could find a way into the contest, so was Folau.

But the comeback owed as much to the All Blacks taking a foot off.

With the game in the bag, changes were made quite early and the impact of the bench was not quite up to the level we have become used to. 

It’s here we are seeing the full effects of the retirement of a bunch of greats two years ago, a few injuries and the inevitable trickle of top quality players to Europe.

For example, we’re quickly finding out just what a big cog in the machine Charlie Faumuina has been. Ofa Tu’ungafasi has been a “project” player but is still unproven.

It wasn’t just the younger brigade. TJ Perenara has been in fantastic touch this year for the Hurricanes, but just looked a bit over eager, like a can of coke that’s been dropped on the footpath waiting for someone to tear the tab off. 

Damien McKenzie showed real brilliance at times. He is so exciting to watch and to his credit has admitted to the odd error that he might have got away with in Super Rugby.

The decision to start Liam Squire was also fully vindicated. If Jerome Kaino can sort out his personal issues he will stay with the team for a while yet because they need his experience at a time when they are having to rebuild their depth, but there was an inescapable feeling that a great career is nearing its end and the guard is being changed. Squire was sensational.

Nothing the All Blacks did in that last 20-30 minutes can’t be fixed, even if some of it (the bench) might take time and it might be a good thing that it happened.

If they had scored 75, what could you do to wind them up for a test a week later? 

In a way the Wallabies can be thanked for keeping interest alive for the test in Dunedin, but you do have to wonder what price they’ll pay for it if the All Blacks can go the full 80 the way they did for the first 50 in Sydney.