Welcome to the big time, Link. It was men against boys tonight, as the All Blacks rode roughshod over the Wallabies, winning 47-29 in Sydney.
The All Blacks came out firing, and quickly went on the attack. It only took three minutes before the first score, with Ben Smith crashing over in the corner. An early knock-on from Stephen Moore had the Wallabies on the back foot, as he spilled a pass from Jesse Mogg that was never on. Aaron Cruden added the extras and the ABs were up 7-0.
Slowly the Wallabies began to work their way back into the game, with Matt Toomua and Will Genia combining well to play an expansive game. Christian Leali’ifano potted a couple of penalty goals to edge the home side back into the contest, before the first real try scoring chance came, through an Adam Ashley-Cooper linebreak (which was sadly squandered by an errant Genia kick).
Both sides continued to trade penalties, with the Wallabies even edging ahead at one point. But two quick tries to the All Blacks saw the momentum swing back to the visitors, with the first through an Aaron Cruden chargedown, and the next by Richie McCaw in the corner. The Wallabies were their own worst enemies, with silly mistakes being seized upon by the ruthless Kiwis.
Just when all looked lost, Will Genia scored an 80m try after an All Blacks long lineout was spilled at the back (although Rob Simmons probably should have been penalised for interfering with the jumper in the air). A late Cruden penalty saw the sides head to the sheds with the Blacks leading 25-19.
The second half started well for the Wallabies, with Christian Leali’ifano potting an early penalty to bring the margin back to just three. But from there it was black, black, black. The wheels came off for the Wallabies, none more so than for Jesse Mogg, who had an out and out shocker before being hooked at the 50 minute mark.
The tries came thick and fast- first to Conrad Smith, then to Ben Smith, then to Ben Smith again. Quade Cooper sparked a bit of life from the bench, putting forward a strong case for selection next week. There wasn’t much to talk about in the second half, though. Despite having most of the ball the Wallabies could do nothing with it. JOC scored a last minute consolation, but the damage was done. Full time was 47-29, put down the glasses.
The older heads stood up for the Wallabies, but were sadly let down by their more inexpereinced counterparts. James Horwill, Ashley-Cooper, O’Connor and Michael Hooper were the four best for the home side, but they had little support. The forwards were well outmuscled, and were exposed for their lack of size and strength.
The backs were also pedestrian, struggling for any forward momentum. And what about our kicking game? Two words: absolute rubbish. Changes need to be made- Mogg, Simmons and McMeniman should be worried, while Toomua and Lealiifano still need to show they belong in gold.
The All Blacks were all class, as usual. You couldn’t pick a standout, as they played near flawless team footy. Forwards ran hard, backs hit the line at pace and passed well. Rugby isn’t rocket science, and don’t the All Blacks know it.
It will be a long week for the Wallabies, before they head to Wellington to try and salvage some much needed pride.
The Game Changer
Conrad Smith’s try in the 51st minute. The Wallabies had done well to edge back into the game after being down early, but the soft try was a big nail in the Wallabies coffin. The heads went down, and they never came back.
The G&GR MOTM
Not many Wallabies can really be happy with their performance. JOC was arguably the best, along with Hooper, Horwill and Ashley-Cooper. Sadly there were plenty more players who had shockers.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Will Genia, James O’Connor
Conversions: Christian Lealiifano 2
Penalties: Christian Lealiifano 5
New Zealand: 47
Tries: Ben Smith 3, Aaron Cruden, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith
Conversions: Aaron Cruden 4
Penalties: Aaron Cruden 3
Cards & citings
Sam Whitelock (YC, 78m)