They might be 2nd in the world in the rankings after the Kiwis but there’s a significant gap between 1st and the rest.
The All Blacks have already won the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cups and you wouldn’t think they’d have the same degree of motivation as the Wallabies tonight.
To switch on and come back from 22-9 down in the 61st minute shows that they are worthy world champions. They’re the first team in the extended competition to win all their Tri-Nations games (6).
As predicted, defence was the Wallabies downfall late in the match. The game started pretty well with a James O’Connor try from a Ben McCalman break off the back of an attacking scrum at the 15min mark.
Backed up by a number of Matt Giteau penalties the Wallabies went to the break at 14-6 and looked the better team.
The Wallabies were gaining confidence in all aspects of play – there were two lineout wins against the ABs and a not straight early in the 2nd half to gift possession to the Wallabies.
A Ma’afu steal lead to an Ashley-Cooper try in the 47th minute in the corner. Gits kicking started to go awry after he missed the conversion and a number of other penalty opportunities. This came back to haunt the Wallabies later in the game.
KB was handed the ball and he slotted a neat penalty in the 61st minute to give the Wallabies a game winning lead of 22-9.
That’s when the match turned and the All Blacks flicked the switch. Continuous pressure led to an easy try in the 68th minute to McCaw from an attacking scrum, which wrong footed JO’C in defence.
Weepu converted and then a final Read try under the posts, again converted by Weepu in the 78th minute took them over the line.
I was disappointed that again Deans didn’t use his bench as early as he probably should have. It was obvious that the Wallabies were struggling late in the match and needed that injection.
Sure, everyone got on but it needed to be earlier – especially stronger defensive players like Barnes and Faingaa to defend the 13 point lead.
Best for the Wallabies were Kurtley ‘Gilbert’ Beale – he was my MOTM, both on attack and defence. Hasn’t he come along?
Lakkie Turner had a good match and Ben McCalman was just terrific with his ‘go-forward’, the find of the tournament for the Wallabies.
Rocky Elsom continued his run of form from last week and I liked the way he took on referee Lawrence. Genia and Cooper were disappointing but the latter had the edge over his counterpart.
Cooper definitely needs some defensive work (missed 5 tackles) and I don’t think he earned too much of his $600,000 tonight….
Ma’afu had his best game so far around the field (9 tackles, 5 runs, 5 ruck/mauls, crucial turnover) and that’s why he probably stayed on a bit longer but the Wallaby scrum was always under some degree of pressure.
Cruden was very average for the All Blacks but was covered by the quality of his team mates. Richie McCaw was again a class above all others (18 tackles, 10 runs, 11 ruck/mauls, 2 turnovers, try) and the master of the breakdown while Read is an emerging talent.
It seems to me that our only hope of defeating this All Black side will be when we have all our injured players back on deck. We might have given them a scare tonight but don’t have the composure to pull off a victory.
Notwithstanding this disappointing defeat, there were certainly signs of improvement. There was more control and shape to this test than other recent efforts and we didn’t fold quite as easily as before.
All Blacks 23 (Richie McCaw, Kieran Read tries Piri Weepu 2 cons 3 pens) defeated Wallabies 22 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O’Connor tries Matt Giteau 3, Kurtley Beale pens).