OROn Saturday, just before the decisive Bledisloe test began, former dual international Sonny Bill Williams was asked his opinion on which team would win. After studying both teams on paper, Williams left with the All Blacks. It was a simple, but cunning observation.
New Zealand duly secured the Bledisloe Cup for the 19th consecutive year with a 57-22 record win against the Wallabies in Auckland, having won the inaugural 33-25 event on the same field a week earlier, a triumph that extends the trans-Tasman hoodoo. to 35 years.
The difference in talent level between the two was accurately reflected in the 35-point margin: With the possible exception of wide wing Michael Hooper and winger Marika Koroibete, no Wallabies player would be in the All Blacks starting lineup. .
The Wallabies played well on patches but, in the entire park, they don’t have 23 players with the ability and experience to challenge seriously. Even despite this fact, Australia continues to exclude a group of high quality foreign players from representing their country. Only three who play their craft abroad, Duncan Paia’aua, Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi, were selected from the broader squad, although none played here. Another group, including second rowers Rory Arnold, Will Skelton and Adam Coleman, rowing racer Sean McMahon, utility racer Kurtley Beale and hooker Tolu Latu, remain ineligible or unavailable.
The inequality of the Bledisloe Cup has reached a critical point. More disturbing than Saturday night’s scoreboard was the half-empty Eden Park stadium. Tickets are still available for dead rubber in Perth in two weeks time. If the All Blacks continue to dominate, the series risks falling into irrelevance.
There are reports that Rugby Australia is seeking further “relaxation” of the so-called Giteau Act, according to which overseas players with more than 60 international matches in Trials are eligible for the Wallabies, to bring in players like Arnold, Skelton, McMahon and others return to the fold. Kerevi and Paia’aua qualified following a rule amendment to allow the selection of two players from abroad with less than 60 trial limits. It is understood that Rugby Australia originally wanted the number of foreign players in this category to be five, not two, but the Super Rugby franchises opposed this. This is likely to be what the national governing body will push.
Having access to all, or at least most, of Australia’s best players would not guarantee victory against New Zealand, but it would make Dave Rennie’s team more competitive. Meanwhile, more work must be done to bridge the huge gap with your enemies on the other side of the ditch.
Rennie has put a lot of emphasis on physical aggression, now is the time to address the mental toughness of the team. An ominous sign for the Wallabies was a tweet posted by All Blacks running back Aaron Smith before the game, which read, “I have that great game feeling!” The Wallabies suggested the pressure was on the Kiwis because they would not want to be part of the team that lost at Eden Park for the first time since 1994. However, it is well documented that New Zealanders thrive on pressure.
On the contrary, Australia seems to be performing at their best in this tie when there is no pressure. Since 2003 they have not once won a decisive round of the Bledisloe Cup. They’ve made the occasional first try or the dead rubber, but it’s not a game that really counts. This fragile mentality reappeared on Saturday. The beginning of the end for the Wallabies came in the 41st minute. The All Blacks led 21-15 when their Nop 8 Ardie Savea received a yellow card. From the penalty that followed, the Wallabies launched into a five-meter lineout. The ball was not straight; wasted opportunity.
In the 10-minute span that Savea was in the trash, the 14-man All Blacks outscored the Wallabies 10-0 to rush to a 31-15 lead. The pressure should have been on New Zealand. Instead, it was the Wallabies who fell apart. A couple of minutes later, the All Blacks extended the lead to 38-15 after winger Sevu Reece intercepted a long pass from Wallabies inside center Matt To’omua to sprint 40 yards to score.
New Zealand’s second interception of the game after center Rieko Ioane’s try in the third minute, his third of the series. Some say the interceptions are lucky, against the game’s progress, but they are a good example of what the All Blacks do best, which is to capitalize on poor execution and mistakes.
The Wallabies dominated possession and territory but did not “hoard” the ball, a fatal mistake in the face of such opportunistic opposition.
The Australians will try to avoid a cover-up when they hold the third test in Perth, where they defeated the Kiwis 47-26 in 2019. Rennie should seriously consider starting Kerevi, who was not available for the second test, downtown, in Instead of just having him on the squad as injury cover: He joined the Wallabies after playing for the Australian team of seven at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Wallabies’ midfield has been ineffective in the first two games and Australia will have a better chance of winning with tough Kerevi on the side run. Even then, they will continue to be outdone by a starry side of the All Blacks, at least on paper.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism