All Blacks Back In Business

I love winning that big trophy and having a drink out of it. Richie McCaw

Making amends for Sydney

By Roger Childs

ABs BledisloeThe All Blacks were sub-standard in Sydney last week and players, coaches and fans anticipated a much improved performance in the second test.

The result exceeded expectations as the New Zealanders roared home with a record 51-20 victory.

The Wallabies will be kicking themselves for not winning the first game on home territory and consequently now face a twelfth year without winning the Bledisloe Cup.

The All Blacks make the play

The first quarter was tight with the teams trading penalties, however the All Blacks were looking ominous as they made several incursions into the Wallabies 22. In the first scrum the Australians were pushed off their own ball and then, in pulling down an All Black scrum near their own line, they conceded a penalty try.

Earlier McCaw had been sin-binned for playing the ball on the ground, but the other 14 players rallied and did not give up any points. However, when Aussie forward Rob Simmons was binned, the Wallabies conceded two converted tries. It was sign of things to come.

ABs Ben SmithThe All Blacks scored four more tries, two of which came from unexpected drives from line-outs near the Australian line. McCaw made amends for his ten minutes in the sin bin to dot down both times.

In the final quarte, Coach Steve Hansen gave the bench a run and, as often happens, the play loosened up and the Wallabies scored two quick tries through the brilliance of Israel Falou and captain Michael Hooper.

However the home team put the icing on the cake when Steven Luatua was unstoppable as he raced in under the posts.

Everyone stepped up

The All Blacks knew that a big improvement was needed and they didn’t disappoint.

  • The tight five showed their dominance in the scrums and Dane Coles lineout throwing was 100% accurate.
  • Brodie Retallick was probably the player of the match as he rose high in the lineout, toiled in the tight, made telling runs in mid field and tackled like a demon.
  • Keiran Read and Richie McCaw were back to their best in the loose and won a lot of ruck ball.
  • All the Smiths played well with Aaron at half back having a blinder, with rapid darts from behind the go-forward pack and slick passing to get the backline away.
  • Aaron Cruden had a much improved game at first five with good judgement on when to pass, run and kick. His goal kicking was first class, with 5 conversions and 3 penalties.

ABs hakaOverall, it was a great team effort and the reserves played their part. The commitment was typified by Beauden Barrett chasing down speedster Israel Folau after the latter intercepted the ball 25 metres out from his line.

Coach Hansen commented It’s a pretty special team. You don’t win 17 games in a row without being a special team.

Fans around the country would echo those sentiments. With the big win in Auckland Hansen’s All Blacks have pushed out their unbeaten run to 19 matches.