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HOW DID THE MEN IN BLACK RATE?

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HOW DID THE MEN IN BLACK RATE?

HOW DID THE MEN IN BLACK RATE?

ABS_FRA_Dunedin2018
SERIES WRAP
 
RATING the All Blacks out of ten for the June tests means weighing up a whole bunch of factors, with wins at the top of the list, followed by things like the quality of opposition, number of players missing from both sides, accuracy, discipline, improvement, development of new players-combinations and implementation of new tactics and strategies.
Give them about a 7 / 10. 
Wellington was a six at best, the others maybe 7.5.
Not a bad start to the year at all, and they’ll know where they need to improve for what should be a hard fought schedule from here through to the end of November.
 
Good Bits: 
 
1) Scott Barrett. Best forward, arguably the best player over the three tests 
 
2) Codie Taylor. Another strong series. If Dane Coles comes back in good shape the All Blacks have a great one-two punch, with Asafo Aumua a potential wild card for RWC 2019.
 
3) Defensive Improvement. It was not great in Wellington, but an 88 percent tackle rate in Dunedin was a good step towards what it will need to be in the Rugby Championship and beyond.
 
4) New boys. Karl Tu’inukuafe’s first scrum as an All Black was like Caterpillar demonstrating their new D11 bulldozer. Jack Goodhue looked the part, Shannon Frizzell is all raw potential, while Richie Mo’uga and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi got only fleeting chances but you know they’ll be good with time.
 
5) The attack. When it was humming, in the second halves in Auckland and Dunedin, it was exhilarating.
 
6) Getting it done without Read, Coles and Retallick for all three tests, SBW, Beauden Barrett, Crotty, Squire and Cane in others, is not bad, even if the French were down on strength as well.
 
7) France may have thrown the towel a bit in Auckland, but otherwise put up a good scrap, given it was a full ten months since their season had started.
 
Mostly Good:
 
1) Damien McKenzie. Still throws the odd frantic pass, but when he is running in broken play there is no more exciting player in the game. Combo with Smith was better this week.
 
2) SBW, until he bunged his shoulder. When he started to run in Dunedin, with the ball in one hand keeping the opposition guessing as to where it would end up, it reminded us of what a huge threat he is. An untried 10-12-13 combo looked very good.
 
THE Bad Bits
 
1) The refereeing has been a blight on the June window. It’s not just the men in the middle, but the law application they’ve been ordered to stick to, and the influence of the TMO creating confusion and inconsistency.
 
2) Which leads to this whole tired thing about the All Blacks getting favourable treatment. 
 
3) Having the third test in Dunedin underlines how many of the stadiums in the rest of the country do not provide good enough spectator comfort.
 
ELSEWHERE:
 
Ireland were just that bit better in the end, but Australia put up more of a great fight in the decider, and made a hell of a series out of it.
 
Did Eddie Jones really need England to win that third test to save his bacon?
 
You almost get the feeling he did, and so it was no surprise to see him beaming afterwards.
 
What it tells us is that England are capable, but that things beneath the surface are complicated, and strained. It might just be a stay of execution.
 
It also tells us that despite the bullish talk from their media after the first two tests, the Springboks aren’t there yet. They have big problems defending the wide channels, and the changes made by Rassie Erasmus for the third test backfired.
 
It was good to see Duane Vermeulen back, and he is wise to now take a break after being flogged by his French club, but it’s a shame he won’t be there for the Rugby Championship, and a big loss for the Boks.
 
Argentina were awful. Perhaps it was some sort of plot to have their coach fired, but now he has gone they’ll need to look at themselves long and hard in the mirror. Perhaps they got the wrong idea from their success playing together in Super Rugby.
 
Wales were very good with an understrength team, and Scotland recovered from a shocker against the USA to beat the Pumas well.
 
In the South Pacific Fiji came out on top of the Pacific Nations Cup again, a stage for their new weapon Semi Radradra, and Tonga looked pretty good.
 
Samoa have been read the riot act by their Prime Minister (as if that could possibly help) but will surely beat Germany and take their place at next year’s World Cup. The first of the two tests is in Apia this weekend.