At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal the world witnessed the first ever perfect 10 by Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. In game 2 of the 2018 Bledisloe Cup series in Auckland we may have seen rugby’s version of “The Perfect 10″ with Beauden Barrett’s outstanding individual effort. The “World Player of the Year’ in 2016 & 2017 may also be on track to win the award for a third straight time in 2018. Here’s a reminder of the qualities Barrett displayed on Saturday…
Barrett scored his first try running a beautiful hard line off Aaron Smith 7 phases into a passage of play that had Beauden’s finger prints all over it. It started with the All Blacks winning a contestable kick and if you focus on Barrett’s involvements he touched the ball 5 times in a 45 second passage of play that showcased his awesome skill set. His final touch was a hard line off the scrum half called a “Bullet” back in the day when Joe Roff and George Gregan ran the same play for the Brumbies and Australia.
Run From Deep
Barrett’s second try started with his attacking instinct and finished with another hard line off Aaron Smith. Plenty of international 10s would have kicked the ball from their own 22m area but Barrett trusted his attacking instincts and passed the ball into space then backed up down the middle of the field. The desire to run from deep is part of this All Black’s team DNA and every time they did so he Wallabies were stretched beyond their defensive capabilities.
Show & Go
Beauden Barrett’s third try showcased his blistering speed. Michael Hooper had pushed up to shut down Barrettt’s forward runners so he took on the Wallaby defensive line and left Rob Simmons and Sekope Kepu grasping. Once through the first line of defence Barrett still had to beat the two Wallaby sweepers in Will Genia and Dane Haylett-Petty. When Barrett received the ball he was about 55m from the try line and it took him 7 seconds to beat 4 Wallaby defenders and score. He is a special player.
The fourth of Barrett’s tries was a gift really. The Wallabies were stripped of the ball in the tackle and the All Blacks had a crack from deep despite the fact they were 10m from their own try line when Tom Robertson was turned over by Brodie Retallick. Damian McKenzie then terrorised the Wallabies scrambling defence and the All Blacks had launched another brave counter attack that was capped off with Beauden Barrett scoring his fourth try.
The Wallabies were again very competitive for much of this match. However they look well off the pace when they are transitioning from attack to defence or defence to attack. This is the job facing Michael Cheika and his coaching team. If they are to seriously challenge the All Blacks in game 3 the Wallabies will need to improve their transition game. It’s something that can be coached.