The truth about Sydney - Green and Gold Rugby

The truth about Sydney

The truth about Sydney

Something strange has happened in the psyche of Wallaby rugby supporters. One of the defining characteristics of Australian-ness is surely the “she’ll be right mate” attitude. A mindset that looks to build on the positive in a situation, and to never capitulate into a self defeating heap of pessimism. But in reading around following last weekend’s match, I’m left wondering both just where that digger spirit has gone and whether I watched the same game.

There is of course another Australian trait, which is an expectation of success. Perhaps it’s the affront to this belief from just too many losses on the bounce and in tight situations that is responsible. Nevertheless there are a number of perceived-wisdom mantras going around with regards to the Sydney Bledisloe that not only collapse into pessimism, they’re plainly not true.

The first is that the Wallabies “threw yet another game away“. That as a team they choked, going to sleep in the second half to let the All Blacks back in. Well, if that were true, what would we expect to see in the stats?

Top of the list would have to be a defensive collapse. But the opposite happened; the Wallabies maintained exactly the same tackle completion rate in the second half as they did the first (85% vs the ABs 83% overall) but actually managed to increase their dominant tackle rate more than three-fold from 8% to 26%. And it’s not as if that was because they were overrun in the second half; Australia were actually forced to make fewer tackles in the second half versus the first (86 vs 92).

What about possession – did they squander it more? Not particularly; 7 turn overs in the first half against 9 in the second. It is true that the All Blacks recycled the ball more than the Wallabies in the game overall, taking the ball into 102 breakdowns vs 78 for Australia. However, the split in All Black breakdowns between the halves was almost equal; 49 in the first half vs 53 in the second.

So there was no mass capitulation.

Next in self flagellating myths, and related to the first one, is that the Wallabies just didn’t play for 80 minutes, whereas the All Blacks did. How on earth does that make sense? By the 60 minute mark, the Wallabies were 22-9 up. So what happened in those sixty minutes for the All Blacks? Were they so on top they gave 22 points away including two tries? By this logic you’d have to say that New Zealand only played 20 minutes, whereas the Wallabies played 60.

In any event, what would anyone in their right mind expect when playing this All Black team? That you’re going to dominate them for the full 80 minutes of a test match, like you would a Canada or Japan? The truth is that if you can best them for 40 minutes you’re doing well; if you can best them for 60 minutes and hold your kicks (because you know they’ll give 3 rather than 7 every time) you should by rights win the game.

Which brings me to the final hair-shirted myth; the missed kicks didn’t lose the Wallabies the game, their general poor performance did. Again, what sort of sense is this? In a hard fought armwrestle with the #1 side in the world, what do you think is going to happen? You’ll out score them in tries by so much, let’s say 5-2 or 4-0, that your goal kicking will make no odds? Patently rediculous. As a team, the Wallabies played so well, that they’d scored 22 points within the first 60 minutes, and through their own merit created the pressure for another 10 more to be taken through kicks.

The Wallaby game plan had been the right one. Go hard out of the blocks and rack up enough point scoring opportunities to weather the inevitable comeback from the Tri-Nations champs. What else are you going to do, let them take the momentum? What more could the rest of the team have done to help those kicks; no better performance in the scrum, tackling or line-out could make them go between the poles.

Here’s the truth of it – in this game, the Wallabies bested the All Blacks. They created more point-scoring opportunities over a greater period of the match. Yeah, yeah, I hear it – look at the scoreboard. Of course that’s the ultimate measure. But it doesn’t change the truth that this young Australia side showed that it can more than compete with New Zealand. This may be a truth lost on some who prefer a more familiar story, but it won’t be lost on messrs Henry or Deans.

  • Pants

    Maybe because we’ve been subjected to far too many games that we should have won but didn’t. I know 10 years ago when we were trailing by a narrow margin I would expect us to somehow come back and win, and we did alot back then. Since then something very strange and bad has happened. We’ve gotten into a habit of getting leads, often significant ones and then losing the game. Almost every game in this 3N we were leading by significant margins and pretty much every time we gave up those leads and lost (and we were very lucky to not lose that last one in SA). I think Brisbane was the only exception. It’s so bad that i now expect us to lose even if we’ve got a 14 – 20 point lead and sadly I’m usually right. Not sure what stats you can use to measure exactly why it is that we lose these games but as a supporter we’ve been trained by repeated narrow losses and squandering leads to expect this.

    • realist

      The All Blacks had already won the Bledislow Cup and the Tri-Nations and had absolutely nothing to play for. They treated the game as a trial by making 6 unforced changes to their team and were playing an away game. I had a bet with a mate that the Wallabies would win by 20 points – he nominated 25. So what happened? Players let the team down in many ways – Regulation tries that should have been scored were not scored – players were out of position at crucial times – cover defence went missing late in the game – some players improved in defence while other had poor statistics – kicks for goal were missed. This current team is just not good enough to be a real threat for the RWC. Lets hope that all of the Wallaby players currently injured or overlooked are back in the squad for the RWC.

    • RedsHappy

      Pants, yes.

      There is not a mainline Australian sport I can think of that would tolerate this level of mediocrity of national team outcome over 3 full playing seasons. One 3N win last year, two from six this year. A bad, unforgivable home loss to England (that saved Johnson’s bacon), a near home loss to Ireland, a poor EOYT 2009, etc. Record negative streak to the ABs. The worst-ever Wallaby coach’s w-l ratio over this period. ‘She’ll be right’ – not.

      I mean, ‘improvement’ in the final two 3N games, with this awful background, so what? Why a kind of essay in moral reprimand and Wallaby cheerleading for those who remain – on rational grounds – disillusioned and angry. Gagger, you are delighted to attack McCaw and ref-bash to the point of distraction, but there is not a single mention in your essay re the obvious poor coaching choices still on display in this team (ie, place kicking strategies, and bench use, plus the ‘enforced late discovery’ of McCalman and Turner, etc, what a joke that is). You appear to be turning a blind eye to our leadership’s failings, yet are profoundly articulate upon those of others.

      I said months ago that the coaches’ ‘marker of forgiveness and survival’ for this 3N should rightly be: 3 wins, including 1 away. We have not reached that, and every time we don’t, there are excuses and explanations aplenty (jetlag and ‘three straight games is so tiring’, the latest).

      And why do we come to sort of exclude sustained excellence of place kicking from the required competency of the team as a whole, as though it was not obvious in 2009 our Giteau-led place kicking skills had serious fragilities, with no full-time coach to fix them and train others as replacements? These are matters of serious coaching negligence in a national team, please don’t flatter by exclusion.

      For me to even begin to forgive these coaches we must: win in HKG vs ABs, and decisively. The match up there is perfectly even in terms of rest, neutral ground, etc. I love that it will be an excuse-free zone for once. If there is genuine core improvement in these Wallabies, that is the testing ground. Then all EOYT Tests must be won, these are not outstanding teams, and France and England must be crushed into the ground in a pre-RWC fervour that convinces us our team is the real deal. After those 5 sequential wins, we can re-evaluate and restore some genuine belief based upon adequate proof and hard facts of sustained achievement and consistency.

      • RH – I’m not surprised you’ve cut and pasted another polemic on the evils of the Deans administration, but how about you change the record for once and actually discuss the topic – the game on the weekend?

        You never know, you might enjoy it – “a change is as good as a holiday”, or so they say.

        I, and all the other writers on G&GR, have questioned and or criticised Deans and the Wallabies on numerous occasions. Personally, my last match review type article following Pretoria did just that. But if all we ever did was focus purely on the negative as you recommend, then even I’d find the site depressingly monotonous.

        As for slating McCaw, in which posts did I do that?

      • Watson

        Damn straight.

  • Mart

    You said it Gagger.
    The best kicker in Australia, kicked 3 from 7. I play subbies and i’d kill myself if i kicked 3 from 7.
    It’s not on.

    • NTA

      “best kicker in Australia”? Have I missed your sarcasm? :)

  • “The Wallaby game plan had been the right one. Go hard out of the blocks and rack up enough point scoring opportunities to weather the inevitable comeback from the Tri-Nations champs.”

    On what basis, Gagger, do you assume that this is a deliberate game plan? And if so it’s hardly been “the right one”.

    In the 11 Trans-Tasman Tests of the Deans era, the Wallabies’ “go hard out of the blocks” approach has produced the following series of half time margins:

    Up 5, down 11, up 7, up 5, up 3, up 9, down 10, up 3, down 18, down 7, up 8.

    Not really enough lead in any of those games if you’re going to concede the second half – as we did in every game – on the basis of an “inevitable comeback” by the All Blacks.

    A smarter strategy might have been to prepare the players to be able to compete over the full 80 minutes.

    • I wasn’t talking about any other Wallaby match, just the one last weekend. In some other matches, I’d agree the Wallabies have “switched off”, see Pretoria.

      By your definition Bruce, were the All Blacks competing for the first 60 minutes? Because they ‘let in’ 22 points, and it could have been 32.

      The truth is two closely matched sides competed over 80 minutes. As will happen in such matches though the momentum will shift between the teams. In this match, the Wallabies had done enough to ride out the shift, just the points weren’t taken.

      Can they still play better and might conditioning play a part in that? Sure.

      • Fair enough, Gagger. Your interpretation of the game plan for this latest Test may well be correct. However, for quite some time I have been focussed on the fact that our team does not have the capacity to sustain 80 minutes of high intensity rugby.

        I may have been influenced by my expectations but I certainly saw signs on Saturday night that we were wilting in the last 30 minutes of the game.

        • Watson

          So did the All Blacks, apparently. Jerome Kaino basically said as much after the game. The Wallabies forwards were hitting the wall so Kaino et al ripped straight up the middle. Worked wonders.

  • Austin

    Agree, Gagger.

    You also can’t discount the factors of the travel back from South Africa and the fact it was the Wallabies third Tri Nations game in 15 days. They’re not excuses but they are factors and combined with the fact that New Zealand had two weeks off to freshen up, it’s no wonder the All Blacks just got up in the last 20 minutes.

    I think the Wallabies played well on Saturday and deserve a wrap. I’ve definitely seen improvement during the Tri Nations. If Giteau kicks just one of those goals on Saturday, I think we’d be seeing a whole different response from people.

    • Garry

      Perhaps a more intelligent use of the bench…… old news.

  • Robson

    I can accept the rationale, but then the mystery remains. How can we surrender commanding leads in three seperate matches? Christchurch, Pretoria and Sydney.

    We might not have had so much ball turned over at Sydney, but the AB’s ball at the breakdown was certainly a lot faster. It’s true that if only one of Git’s kicks had gone over we would have won the test match. But I don’t really buy into his lack of success being the reason for the loss. Damn – we well and truly had the wood on the ABs despite his missed kicks. That is until they scored two successive converted tries.

    So at that point was it really Git’s fault for missing his kicks or was it a collective problem of letting the ABs back into the game? I suppose you can argue either way, but surrendering a commanding lead in the last quarter of the match doesn’t seem to me be the fault of one man.

    The WBs had an attacking flurry in the dying minutes which they needed to have a bit earlier but they had the ABs foot on their throats on their own goal line. And they just didn’t have the scrummaging grunt to disrupt the ABs possession. If there was a point of difference in the match I really think it was that.

    • Jay

      The Wallabies didn’t have a lead at any point in Chch, let alone a commanding one.

      • Robson

        You’re right.

    • Garry

      How can we surrender commanding leads in three seperate matches? Christchurch, Pretoria and Sydney.

      Robson, you know that we dissected those matches, and in each we seen some electric attacking from our WB’s, and some schoolboy grade f*ck ups that embarrass me to be a supporter. Each game they’d come up with something new. But something that was constant through out was the ineptness of the coaching. Not only from covering the basics (as I’ve just said), but also more intricacies (that Dwyer has pointed out), and other areas such as not having an eye for potential new talent, and persisting with players that weren’t performing well, not using the bench intelligently, poor player management (interacting with Git’s kicking, and Rocky’s captaincy, and a number of peripheral players), lack of set piece moves, poor media skills by the coaches and senior players, decisions about the timing to go to the SA high veldt, etc.

      Did I get it all? Each game we choked will contain a little of all of these, and we all can think of occasions. And can we agree that we are not moving forward at a fast enough pace to cover these inadequacies.

      Remember that Dingo has no international coaching experience, so should we feel sorry for him? I do, but please step down, your not ready.

      My fear is that we’ll be talking about these same problems post RWC, and how it cost us a vital game. I don’t want to be lamenting what could have been.

      Now is a very important time for our team. Let’s wipe the slate, take a new coach with us to Europe.

      • Garry

        Sorry, I thought the ‘b’ was for block quote , not bold.

        Outstanding huh?

      • Robson

        Yep Garry I agree with what you are saying. The final line of my post, however, underlines what I thought was the criticall point of difference in – specifically – the last test in Sydney. We could not defend our own goal line with our scrum. Once our scrum was on the back foot a try was inevitable – McCaw detaching or not.

        To expand that just a bit, there has been a lot of talk about the coaching inadequacies of the Wallabies; all of which I happen to agree with. But those inadequacies also extend to the scrum coaching. I believe that we actually outweighed the AB scrum (but wont be too emphatic about that because I’m not 100 on it), so if this was indeed the case there are some serious technique deficiencies in the Wallaby scrum.

        The final point on this I want to make (being a former loosehead prop) is that Ben Robinson has drawn some sideways looks on the basis that he is not yet back to his best. In fact one comment stated that he is no longer a top international loose head prop. I just have to say that for a loosehead to do his work effectively (remembering that he is the only tight forward who has only one shoulder to push against), both the locks and the tight head prop must be doing their jobs effectively first. If any one of them are not up to their task, the loosehead is going to struggle.

        Robinson was in the unfortunate position of having to do his job as well as trying to compensate somehow for some quite weak work on the other side of the scrum. This was the case even after Slipper came on – although his side of the scrum did seem to improve slightly. But it wasn’t enough when the Wallabies were camped right on their own goal line and the ABs had the smell of another try in their nostrils.

        There appears to be a problem in the Wallabies middle row, but there are two problems in the front row. One is the immaturity of Slipper and the other is the incompetence of Ma’afu. Slipper will eventually be a very good international prop. Ma’afu will never be. Deans, on the other hand, says that this is all he’s got to work with. Well he discarded Laurie Weeks who was the best Australian tighthead prop in the S14 before the TN began. So it is all he’s got to work with – and all because of his own blinkered thinking about front row forwards.

        I think Weeks would have made a huge difference to our scrummaging performance; especially in the last ten minutes of the Sydney test. Nothwithstanding the fact that Woodcock has his hand on the floor and wasn’t called for it, I think we could have disrupted the AB scrum sufficiently to get a penalty.

        But the man who could have levered that outcome was probably in Brisbane watching the match on TV.

  • El Dommo

    Come on Gagger. really?

    tackle completions dont mean much if you give up territory with each run. completing tackles on your own 5 metre line doesnt hold the same cred as being defensively staunch at the 50 and owning the territory battle.

    The Wallabies choked. They have turned into the French at world cup time…One Great game in them (normally against NZ actually) but that birlliance is normally never good enough to push them to the next level…..which is, lets all say it together “Consistency”

    the same applied to wthin a single game.

    Breaking the game up into 60 and 20 = 80, half here half there, blah blah blah. come on.

    Also lets appreciate the changes that were made before and within the game. Deans will continue to be criticised of his treatment of the bench, where particualrly in the tight, some key changes to the Blacks forward pack reinforced their ability to grind out when it was necessary, and a few Backs changes at the right time (notably Colin slade after Cruden exposed himself as as a bit Green) provided a bit of punch.

    You are right however that Giteaus goal kicking didnt win (well obviously) or lose the game. Its too far removed, giteau makes the kicks….maybe the all blacks score immediately after one of the penalties or tries out of necessity….yeah, you could take it back to the time of T-Rex if you wanted to.

    One thing i will comment on is the Wallabies habit of waiting at the breakdown to attack. I would like to see an assessment of the yardage gained after they do this. Genia certainly doesnt do it for Qld, and Deans certainly never coached it at Canterbury. Is it a fitness issue, do the wallabies feel they are stronger than any other team? have no idea. I saw a ball sit at the back (available quickly mind you) that wasnt passed for another 20 seconds (ok a bit less).

    • Lance Free

      Surely this isn’t the real El Dommo? Only the odd typo? What’s going on – it was your calling card? New keyboard maybe? I prefer the old one….

      BTW, congrats on your recent appointment.

  • Bullrush

    To your point that defense actually picking up in the second half – I think you’re looking at the wrong stats. To see if the defense actually worked, you don’t look so much at how many tackles were made but how many were missed. If the opposition has more possesion than you would expect that the tackle count would increase, the question is if the defense holds up to it. The measure of that is a) tries scored and b) missed tackles.

    To the point that the Gits missed 10 points which cost the game – possibly…..probably. But it’s impossible to say. If Gits had made one of those kicks, it’s impossible to say how the ABs would have reacted to being down by so much. Or the Wallabies to being up by so much. The butterfly effect, so to speak, comes into play and it is impossible to say how one action would ultimately effect the end result. Look at the lead the Wallabies threw away the 2 weeks before – could that have happened again?

    In saying that, I personally think that missing the kicks did play a pretty big part in the losing of the game. I’m glad that compared to the kicks Gits had, Weepu’s were in fairly easy range.

    • Mart

      Possibly 10 points makes a difference”…yes I think it would have made a big difference!!

    • Bullrush, as I said in the article, the wallabies kept the same completion rate on a fewer number of tackle attempts in the second half, that means they missed fewer tackles 13 vs 14.

  • Pants

    If it were a one off, you could forgive Gits his missed kicks. Trouble is that’s now the ABs, England and Scotland games all lost by 1 point and all attributed to Gits kicking and in 2 of those games he missed kicks pretty much directly in front of the goal posts. That’s 3 in a year and I’m pretty sure there are others if you look back further.

    I can’t fathom why the coaches continue to back him as the no 1 goal kicker quoting his kicking stats from the S14. Isn’t it widely accepted that Test match rugby is a different game to the S14. You can see it in his face as he lines up to take the kicks that a) he isn’t very confident and b) he would rather not be there taking the kick. I think the coaches are being stubborn or stupid or both by continuing to back him as the no 1 goal kicker. Surely they should say he enough is enough. He hasn’t performed at the top level as a goal kicker over the past year, time to look to another option. Then ask the question, who has stepped up when needed at goal kicking. It’s bloody obvious, give KB the job. At least you’re being proactive instead of living in denial and attributing these lost games to the whole team. News flash Robbie…goal kicking wins test matches!

    • Roland

      KB can’t kick to save himself. One kick doesnt make a kicker.

      We all saw Fancois Steyn’s 60M drop kick against us yeah? You know what his drop kick success rate in the super 14 the following year was? 1/17.

      JOC is actually the best kicker in the wallaby lineup. QC has a nasty hook. Actually Berrick aint bad

    • ozrugbynut

      I do think that losing the kicking job might be a positive for Gits. He’s job a tough job already having to guide an inexperienced backline. He needs to focus on breaking that line. The problem is just going to compound as his lack of confidence impacts on his whole game.

      Give the duties to JOC whilst he is on. Young, confident and capable.

  • Lee Enfield

    Giteau missing 4 kicks cost the Wallabies the match. Just two weeks ago Beale was being praised for winning the match with one kick, despite the team playing poorly in the 2nd half. Flash forward one week, the team playing poorly in the 2nd half is the cause of the loss, not giteau missing 4 kicks.
    Shots at goal decided the outcome of both matches, but becasue the outcome was different, the reason for the loss/win are different. If the Wallabies, trailing 23-22 had a shot at goal to the win the match against the All Blacks in Sydney, in the dying moments and Giteau slotted it, the same people blaming a poor team performance for the loss, would be applauding Giteau for winning the game with a kick. I
    Giteau missing 4 kicks is the reason the Wallabies lost, any other reason is bullshit. This guy is the highest paid player in Australia, he is the teams goal kicker, yet when the pressure is on, he melts. Giteau is a chocco and the only reason he is the number one kicker is so that the ARU can justify picking this waste of space in the team.
    Take your hands off your cocks, put your picture of Giteau away in the draw, and face reality, Chocolate Giteau’s habbit of melting in battle and missing shots at goal have now cost the Wallabies 3 wins. The team played well on Saturday but were let down by mister FIGJAM Giteau and his choking. Giteau is a WOFTAM and should be dropped for good, if we take him to the RWC we will lose, especially if he is our goal kicker.

  • danny

    The AB’s are just a far superior ATM, as you saw with the last twenty minutes. They just did what they had to and quite easily too. However the problem with the Wallabies is that they make the same mistakes all the time which is why fans are frustrated and that probably comes down to Robbie Deans’ coaching. IMO the quality quite isn’t there ATM and the mental attitude isn’t near ruthless enough like most other Aussie sporting codes. Whether they choked or not come down to whether they in fact good enough and ATM i do not believe they are.

    • Roland

      The gap is minimal and we have so many players coming back, and a young group matureing. I would actually put Aus & NZ on level pegging for world cup honours at the moment.

      Maybe home ground advantage might prove the difference

    • Garry

      Danny, I hear ya, but I don’t believe it.

      AB’s are better than us ATM, granted. But I think we seen enough this year to know that under a professional coaching team (that’s not the current mob), the difference would be very small, and on occasions we would finish on top.

      Unfortunately, unless we can shift the coaches on, it’s just my speculation.

  • Dally M

    Failure to use the bench when guys were clearly tired cost us that match again.

    That is 2 matches in the Tri-Nations we should have won had we used our bench properly.

    There is just no excuse for that. It’s poor coaching.

  • Lance Free

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics….

    • MattyP

      Speaking of which Lance, I’m no stats guy, but I’ll bet that a trinations match has NEVER been won by a team with a less than 50% kicking percentage…

  • Muffy

    I am a big fan of Berrick Barnes. I cant understand for the life of me why he is not used more. He is a test quality centre, he is reliable and very seldom has a brain snap. He is very effective defensively and has good positional play. with Cooper inside with flair and JOC and Beal both outside with flair, you need that reliable brain in the middle and he has it in spades.

    I know he is not a popular peoples choice, but I would love to see him and gits in a bench reversal.

    IMO JOC needs to kicking for poles. Natural talent in spades and too precocious to worry.

    Still need a front row with a bit more grunt as well. Robinson seems to have fallen away. His main strength last year was the ability to get under the tighthead, they are wise to that now and he has to play nice and as a result is getting shoved.

    Reading back I seem to know quite a lot, how come no one ever asks me :)

    • Lee Enfield

      Totally agree Barnes at 12. I would drop Giteau completely, bring JOC onto the bench for cover at 10/12, cause when Diggers returns, there ain’t no way JOC can be selected on the wing over Ioane, Turner, Mitchell, Hynes, and AAC, KB, Hynes at 15.

  • suckerforred

    I don’t think that you would find a WB supporter out there that could not add more reasons to the list as to why we lost but should have won a few of the 3N games.

    My conclusion from the international season so far – there is something amiss very deep in the camp, and us standing on the outside throwing the 2-cents around are not likely to find out what. Yes the use of the bench is not good, yes some of the players (Gits included but not the only one) could do with an enforced rest, yes we have some defensive holes, yes the team is young and still leanring how to copr under pressure, maybe the mental toughness isn’t there, yes there are a lot of injuries, yes players are not being picked in their preferred position, or those positions they have experience in, yes the refereeing has not been consistant and in some case just plain not good…… and the list can continue on and on and on.

    But, since the dust has settled and I have had time to see past all the ribbing that I have received from those over the ditch, there is somethings we can look to. And thanks GAGR you have made me feel better. It is not all bad, we have improved over the last few months, and statistics can be made to say anything (lol). The test will be to see that improvment continue in the NH.

  • El Dommo

    Suckerforred you have to be kidding don’t you?

    what players are being picked out of their preferred positions that aren’t actually performing.

    AAC – perhaps the one true position for him ever since he started playing Super rugby has been 13.
    JOC – i am nt the hugest fan, but have to admit his play at wing in the absence of Hynes and Ioane has been great.

    KB at fullback – he has been playing there consistently at Super level already.

    For a man who rattles off so many “yes this is wrong, yes this is wrong” you are quick to say we are improving and then not give any substance to that remark.

    As for this attitude, we are improving, we are rebuilding etc (which is waht your comment wreaks of) this is international rugby. Results are the only thing a team can be measured on. This isnt Kindergarten for the barbarians, or a training camp for European rugby clubs to ensure they get a better player for their dickloads of cash. Winning, is everything. Maybe thats the thing that is amiss….too much bullshit about improvement etc.

    • suckerforred

      El Dommo – Have you ever heard of fly fishing? I just got a big one!

    • suckerforred

      Oh, and I’ll take the man comment as a compliment. I think….

    • suckerforred

      In all seriousness I do see improvement –

      JOC – has settled into the wing, and in the absense of Hynes and Ioane has played well, but not a winger at the start.
      AAC – Has settled into 13 – and might I add probably should stay there in the adsense of alternatives, even though I still maintain he is a better full back the KB.
      KB – not the biggest fan, but I am being converted. Slowly.
      Our back line is starting to work together and the moves are starting to come off.
      QC has made a tackle.
      Chis & Sharpe have worked well together in the locks when they have been there together.
      Rocky has got some of his running back in the last two matches, and I think his capataincy have improved. However I would clarify this by saying I am still not sure he should be the captain.
      The point as been demonstrated in Bloem that if the bench is used, they can be effective.

      And anyway, if I didn’t latch on to even the faintest glimmer of hope I would slit my wrists.

  • Bullrush


    By what standard do you think that the Wallabies are “level pegging”?!?

    They have lost 10 straight Tests to the All Blacks since 2008. Since Deans took over they have had 1 win against the AB’s.

    While I wouldn’t say the ABs are ‘far superior’ to say that they are ‘level pegging’ is probably optimistic. For all the guys you say that have to come back from injury – these are the same guys who lost the first 7 Tests in this string of losses. And for the young and comers you have coming through – watch some of the guys playing in the ITM Cup at the moment.

    The All Blacks have a couple of handy guys coming back from injury themselves :)

    • ozrugbynut

      “same guys who lost the first 7 tests…”

      Sure, but the players in those first 7 games were largely themselves ‘new’ players during this rebuilding phase. Robinson, Alexander, TPN, Horwill. It has been almost constant change since 07.

      The point I’d make is this:

      NZ has such depth that the impact a returning starting player is not hugely significant. But for the wallabies, because of our depth issues, bringing back our key starting players to replace these kids will make much more of a difference.

      • Hawko

        In the test in Sydney, three players had horrible games according to my Kiwi friends. They were Flynn, Cruden and Vito. All were replacing first team players, two replacing for injuries. Maybe this NZ depth thing is a bit of a croc?

        Personally I thought Flynn, Nonu and Smith were the worst performers but that’s the Kiwi perspective.

    • Roland

      You misread my comment. I just think we are clipping at thier heels, and we will benefit more from another 12 months of development than they will due to our new young team. Opinions are like arseholes, and I just voiced mine.

      Compare these in/outs including reserves and tell me there is not a huge difference

      Front: Ma’fu, Faingaa,
      Second: Chisholm, Mumm
      Back: Mcalman*, Brown

      Front: TPN, Alexander,
      Second: Horwill, Vickerman
      Back: Palu, Higgingbotham*

      *Maybe some reds bias involved on that call.

      The point im making is, we’re close, and we have more players who have vital roles in the team to come in, and we’re younger and will benefit from another 12 months more than the AB’s.

      Do you think the AB’s would have won 3-0 if Woodcock, Mealamu, Thorne, and Sir Ritchie were out for the TN’s.

  • danny

    yeah sorry buddy, that probably wasn’t quite the word i was looking for, but the wallabies are clearly not level-pegging. In the WC time and space will be at an absolute minimal and the pressure will be paramount and the AB’s have the experience of dealing and winning in that sort of environment for a long time, perhaps not the world cups, but they are at home this time. I think robbie deans also believes that there is nothing between these two sides and when ther clearly is quite a bit he is not addressing the key issues, they make the same mistakes each match and dont seem to pick it up. The wallabies lack ruthlessness when they play and they will be faced with 80mins of that next year so they will have to improve hugely between now and next november to have a chance.

    • Garry

      “so they will have to improve hugely between now and next november to have a chance”


      under Dingo, my fear is that it aint gonna happen.

  • El Dommo

    Lance It is I, bought new voice recognition software…no more typos. No if i only knew how to install it.

    thanks…Care to do some recruiting for me?

    • Lance Free

      Wrong club now Dommo, we won the Grand Final!

    • Problem with this new software Dommo, is that it turns your comments into bullshit!

  • El Dommo

    haha, you dont need anymore players Lance. in fact you need less players.

    2 words for next year mate. Top Four.

    Can it be done….i guess we will see,…i have worked magic before

  • Robbo

    This article speaks the truth. The beautiful thing about rugby is that it is a multifacited game, that is, a team can dominate in several areas yet still come up short. Does this sound familiar? I cannot urge Australian Rugby fans to keep the faith enough, to show some internal fortitude and back our boys.

  • Gumby

    Gagger. Glad to see someone else watched the same game as I did. Great Teams win matches that they don’t deserve to win and this was one of those matches for the AB’s.

    There is no doubt Gits unreliable kicking cost us the game and after three such examples in the past year it is time to let someone else carry the responsibility and privilege of being first choice kicker. The rest of the team did enough to win the game.

  • Ben

    Wilting in the last 3 tests….. doesnt seem to be the case. if you look at all three the Boks and Blacks slowed the game down and went right up the middle of our forward pack. This is what I have a problem with…both teams didnt spread it around for specacular tries almost all the tries were from slow recylced ball and going right through our middle. I think the Poms and French would have watched this and taken note.

    The solution to this it

    1) Have more forwards on the bench and use the bench ealier. We are not blessed with massive beef outside out best 22 and we need some big lads that will not be run through. Benn Robinson, Dean Mumm Richard Brown are all very guilty of this.

    2) Choose a bigger set of reserves and slow the game down ourselves. The most the Ab’s were going to score playing this way were 2 tries..whch they did by playing tight and rolling right over us. The return and Cliffy and TPN and Horwill….with higgenbotham on the bench should help this. We need to use the rolling maul more late in the game. Hold possession for 15 phases then kick it to the other end of the paddock.

  • zeeman

    I have to agree with Gagger. At the end of that game I didn’t need to read the stats to know that thw Wallabies had outplayed the Blecks-was worth it to see the despondent look in the eyes of a few of their players near the half time mark.
    Moreover we now have a team that has come screaming out of the gates in three (count ‘em) three games. I have to say I love to watch em play and they are gonna be a mean contender for next year. A few near losses are ok when the rugby is this good!

  • MattyP

    Gaggs, I’m not convinced it’s correct to refer the Wallabies having a “strategy” to go out hard and then hang onto a lead, like it’s a middle distance track race. I think the strategy is to start out with ball in hand and play our game. The fact that we have put up points early just means that we have executed early – to me, an excellent sign that the strategy is working. I am disappointed, but I feel really good about next year.

    The fact that we have let other side back into the game is a testament to having been playing the top two sides in the world, both led by captains who will go into the rugby pantheon. Their leadership showed. But most of all, it was the kicking.

    You don’t take the majority of your points on offer, you lose at this level, simple as that. To dismiss the effect of our (ie Gits’) ineffectual kicking, as some have tried to do, is simply non-sensical. You win rugby matches by scoring. Other than a touchdown, you score by kicking. A fortiori, miss your kicks, high probability that you lose the game. Kick everything that comes your way, you’re always in with a shake, from schoolies and subbies through to the World Cup final. Gits should have been pastured after losing the game to Scotland. We are now suffering the consequences of that failure.

    • Blinky Bill from Bellingen

      Agree 100% with comments on kicking and I can’t believe that so many see it differently.

      I’m left wondering why, back at Wallaby training, Gits kicking technique hasn’t been sorted out by now. Surely someone has noticed it needs urgent attention.

      Points from goals & conversions are like gold, especially when the differences between a loss and a win are so tight.

  • Croke

    Sorry, third last par, rediculous.
    The correct way to misspell ridiculous is redonculous.
    Everyone on the intarnets knows that.

    Oh, and if its team analysis by numbers, Gits has to go. Did any other Wallaby lose 10 points in that match?
    His looping kicking style is a massive liability when its off even slightly, works better on one side of the park than the other, doesn’t go long etc, etc

    We need a hard, straight kicker like Carter or Steyn.

    If Gits isn’t pulling down the points through the uprights, its hard to work out what he brings to the game.

    • Jay

      I’ve always liked “ricockulous”

      • Lee Enfield

        Ruddiculous is my favourite, but it is a bit out of fashion now.

  • Groucho

    I haven’t read the comments yet but I strongly agree with Gagger’s post. I thought the Wallabies did extremely well in Sydney. Unfortunately they lost. But soon they’re going to start winning these games.

    Some of the negativity on display on here after the game was totally unacceptable, in my opinion. It was disrespectful to the team and to Australian rugby. Wanting to win is an Australian tradition, but abusing the players is something we’ve only recently learned.

    The hubris of some fans who insist they the only path to Wallabies success is them throwing the toys out of the pram, is astonishing.

  • muppet

    Let’s not confuse ‘playing for the full 80′ with ‘winning for the full 80′. You just can’t do the latter against comparable opposition. Traditionally the periods before and after half time are the critical periods. Let’s invert that and try to win the first 20 and last 20. We seem to be doing the former…

  • Nabley

    Some interesting comments. I agree that the Wallabies played well, but as it turned out not well enough. We can bitch about missed goals and the like, but the reality of rugby is that every time there is a score, a new start occurs in a different part of the field. What is going to happen from the new start no one knows, so it is senseless arguing about it.

    What we saw last Staurday night was a dominant Wallabies team until the last 20 mins. The ABs increased the intensity of the game especially amongst their forwards, and there was no Wallaby response. Some can argue that it was travel wariness and thats not unreasonable, but we have seen them fade too consistently at the business end of games in the immediate past for it to be a unique issue in this game. There is something more fundamental at play.

    For what it is worth I reckon it is poor capataincy. Rocky is a great player but a lousy captain. He brings the wrong sort of leadership to the team. I do not think I have ever seen an interenational captain who is so negative. He spent most of the game bitching to the ref who got pissed off with it and put him in his place with a dose of reality statistics. That was the beginning of the end. He lost credibility and in doing so was missing when the team needed that lift to put them past the new imposed barrier of intensity and skill that the ABs imposed.. Leadership of men under pressure is a strange amalgam of inspiration, recognition, support, advice, direction and example. Well Rocky provides some elements of the example, but not much esle. It is just not working out with him calling the shots.

  • dave

    On the whole I agree with you.

    I understand what you are saying about the “full 80″ but for me playing for the full 80 means you are still competitive enough at the end for victory to be possible. And indeed the WBs were, but so were the ABs. The ABs won by having cool heads in a crisis and knowing what they had to do in order to win. More importantly it’s executing, what is essentially an act of desperation, with effeciency. Which in this case meant getting to the right half of the field, giving the ball to the forwards and let them make yardage and hopefully with patience and a bit of luck, score. And guess what? It worked.

    I think there is also a mindset that develops. When leading a game capitulation is a greater risk and I agree it isn’t what happened here. But by the same token when chasing a lead a team, out of necessity works harder. If you are skilled enough, as the ABs are, that harder work rate gets results. And this for them is working off the knowledge that winning is always a possibility.

    The ABs simply played the smarter rugby when it counted. And they didn’t miss their kicks. It’s important to remember that the ABs were still in the hunt, not just because of Git’s errant kicks but Weepu’s accurate ones.

    And for mine it seemed the ABs were running at them with more efficiency. That takes it toll on already tired legs offering up opportunities to the opposition. It wasn’t a huge difference but neither was the 1 point margin at the end.

    For me Sydney wasn’t so much a capitulation (which has happened in the past) but an inability to deal with an increase in intensity and a change in tactics from the ABs. But what concerns me a little is that increase in intensity in a 2nd half is almost never perpetuated by the WBs. We always come out swinging but we don’t seem to have the 2nd half ability to rock an opposition back on their heals like the SBs and the ABs. I think this needs to be developed, because it seems to me that this can either secure victory or put a stop to a game running away.

  • Don’t pull all your hair out Aussies. Sure the All Blacks came back; thats part of their game now. But your kicker was BS, and that was that – one penalty would have done it. I think Barnes might be the man now. get Kurtley to do your kicking. get kurtley to do the kicking. But the All blacks won’t be experimenting in Hong Kong. Good luck because you will need it next time!

  • Matto

    From where I was sitting, it looked to me like the AB’s allowed the WB’s to play well in the first half through poor kicking and plenty of errors. In the second half they sorted that out and played to the standard we are all used to seeing this year.
    The WB’s are a great side full of talented players who will dominate a game if they are allowed to. The AB’s are a better side who don’t usually let the WB’s play as well as they can.
    If we are playing poorly at golf, then we only have ourselves to blame.

  • cheese

    your comments are 100 per cent spot on.

  • Sam Bananas

    It’s not rocket science fella’s. No international team can hope to achieve consistent victory with a below 70% kicker.

    And our #1 kicker is a long way off 70%.

  • So get yourselves a reliable kicker and a good combination at 10, 12 and 13. Remember the Ab’s have a certain daniel carter coming back in a few weeks – not a bad sort of player. Get a decent front row too!

  • KangaDingo


  • KangaDingo

    The kiwis r gettin rather nervous about the wc,
    its funny 2 check out the abs website & listen 2 their nervous chatter sayin how wc’s not that important.
    They all bag Dingo Deans, but its lookin like he’s on track 2 do what he was hired 2 do,
    win us a 3rd wc.
    G Henry will just give up when the abs crumble next yr, & the kiwi public will e calling 4 his hide 4 peaking their team 2 early yet again.

  • Steve

    I think one of the biggest issues with Australia Surrendering leads currently is leadership. Yeah Yeah I know player doesn’t make a team. However a great leader does compose a team. That team of the late 90’s early 2000’s had John Eales his influence at the end of tight matches should not be underestimated.
    This is also very obvious with Richie McCaw, if you watch any of the tight match the All Blacks have played Richie lifts his work rate and leads from the front in the final 20 Minutes, even in loses this is true. He always remains calm. For any of the young guys in the team this must make such a difference.
    Rocky Elsom is an incredible player but has a tendency to lose his cool, often at the ref. He is often seen looking for someone to blame for the predicament rather than a way he and the team can influence the outcome. Even listen to Richies after match speeches win or lose it is all about how their performance influenced the result. Not the Ref.

  • Bullrush

    “They all bag Dingo Deans, but its lookin like he’s on track 2 do what he was hired 2 do,
    win us a 3rd wc.
    G Henry will just give up when the abs crumble next yr, & the kiwi public will e calling 4 his hide 4 peaking their team 2 early yet again.”

    The benefit that Robbie Deans has is that he can lose a record 10-straight games to the All Blacks, lose against Scotland and England, draw with Ireland and still be safe in his role – all the while claiming that it’s all about the RWC.

    The ‘kiwi public’ would never accept those kind of results from an AB coach no matter how many injuries we had or how much of a ‘rebuilding’ phase we were in. We actually do care about winning Tests in-between the RWC.

    Dingo Deans has a luxury that no AB coach will ever have – probably no SA coach either.

  • KangaDingo

    Dingo was hired 4 1 job only,
    if that wasnt the case he’d b gone.
    He’s smarter than u think.
    I give the Walls a better chance than the abs in the next wc.
    Its all about timing.
    The only thing that could stop us is injuries.
    The difference between the Walls & the abs supporters is that the walls supporters know that the no1 goal in rugby is the wc.
    The kiwis r just jealous cause they’ve never won a propper wc.
    In reality it’s 2 zip, not 2-1, that 1st wc dont count 4 anything,
    they were playin it at concorde oval 4 gods sake!

  • KangaDingo

    the kiwi public would never accept those kinds of results cause they dont know the glorious feelin of winning a real wc.
    If they ever do win 1 then their focus will be elevated to the bigger pic of wc,
    rather than crappin on about tri nations.
    The abs supporters have yet 2 feel the bigger picture of being World Champions.
    They also seem 2 have 4gotten about their dismal record against the boks last yr.
    They also dont wanna admit that they r only scraping past us now by the narrowist of margins.
    & the fact that they dont play knock out comps very well,
    hence their pathetic wc record.
    If they did happen 2 fluke a wc next yr in reality it’ll be their first,
    on par with the poms.

  • KangaDingo

    thats cause the Aussie supporters r more enlightened than abs supporters.
    We have experienced the ultimate rugby experience twice,
    u have yet 2 taste it.
    U cant understand somethin u havent experienced.

  • Steve

    I am so sick of hearing the peaking early Bull&*(.
    Lets look at the last few world cups and what actually happened in the lead up
    1991 Lost 2 out of 3 to Australia in the lead up
    1995 Australia had the best team in 94 (AB’s lost twice to France and once to Aus in the lead up)
    1999 NZ lost 5 in a row in ’98
    2003 NZ lost twice 2 England in the 12 months before the cup
    Which leaves 2007 which they were simply beaten by a more committed team on the day.
    Hardly a record of peaking between cups is it

  • Bullrush

    “Dingo was hired 4 1 job only”.
    Graham Henry was hired to do the same job for the All Blacks but again I repeat, AB supporters actually care about what happens in the 4 years in-between RWC. Do you watch Tests outside of Rugby World Cups? Do you care if the Wallabies win? And if the Wallabies don’t win the RWC next year, will all those losses still be worth it?

    “I give the Walls a better chance than the abs in the next wc”.
    Good for you. I don’t.

    “The only thing that could stop us is injuries.”
    We’ve all seen how well the Wallabies cope with injuries so you’re probably right about that. But at least you will still have that excuse to fall back on.

    “The kiwis r just jealous cause they’ve never won a propper wc.”
    Histroy will differ with you but if it consoles you so be it. I’ll console myself with proper spelling.
    But only by the narrowest of margins.

    “the kiwi public would never accept those kinds of results cause they dont know the glorious feelin of winning a real wc.”
    Again, history will differ with you. We’ll bask in the glory of 10 straight wins (will it be 11 in Hong Kong?). Oh, and the Bledisloe Cup. Do you remember what that is or what it looks like? A RWC 11 years ago is all you got at the moment.

    “u have yet 2 taste it. U cant understand somethin u havent experienced.”
    We have also never experienced a loss to Scotland. Or 8 stright years without the Bledisloe. 9 without the Tri-Nations. What does that taste like? Please enlighten us poor AB supporters.

  • Dally M

    The old “We have never lost to Scotland” record again Bullrush?

    Dude, that one is getting VERY old. You may not have lost to Scotland, but you have drawn twice.

    So what does all that mean?

    Diddly squat going forward. Stop living in the past bro!

  • Bullrush

    @ Dally M

    If you actually read my original post, it had nothing to do with the past.

    KangaDingo was actually the one who started bringing up the past.

    So if a loss to Scotland means diddly squat going forward then so does 2 RWC vistories :)

  • Dally M

    I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve trotted out the ‘lost to Scotland’ line on this forum, but it’s well over a dozen times.

    It get’s real old, especially when the article being discussed has nothing to do with Scotland.

  • KangaDingo

    everything u say is small fry stuff compared 2 the wc.
    U didnt mention my line bout u 4getting about last yrs Boks games.
    Ur just grasping at straws.

    I would prefere 2 lose all those games & win the wc, rather than the other way round.
    & so would 99% of abs supporters, even though they wouldnt admit it publicly.

    If we win the wc next yr then Deans will have done what he was brought into do,
    & he’ll be a hero.
    I’d hate 2 b Henry when he dont win it!!
    What will the abs excuse b?

  • KangaDingo

    @ steve
    u will b losing 2 the Walls next yr.
    That kiwi small fry mentality will come thru when the crowds hit nz next yr & u’ll choke yet again.
    We’ll even give u the hong kong game as a freebie, just 2 keep ur hopes alive.
    Its just a rugby showcase game 4 asia anyway.

    We got our minds on next yr.

  • Bullrush

    @Dally M

    I’ve probably talked about the Scotland loss about a tenth of the time Aussies have talked about the All Blacks ‘peaking too early’ or ‘choking’ at RWC.


    No actually. I don’t think that I would trade a RWC win to have the next 8-10 years of struggling to maintain a 50%+ win record a la Australia and England. We had 5 losses in 1998 and that hurt probably just as much as the RWC losses did. But if the TriNations and Bledisloe mean nothing to you then it shows you up as not really being a true rugby fan. More of an ‘event’ fan really.
    And I’ll comment on our losses to SA when you comment on your 9 losses to us, to England and, wait for it…..SCOTLAND. (Add another one to the tally Dally M)


    • Dally M

      Well talking about ‘peaking to early’ is a valid discussion point given it’s:

      1. Relevant to the current form of the All Blacks, and

      2. Something the Kiwi journo’s themselves are asking.

      And as for how the AB’s will go at the World Cup, that’s relevant too as it’s on next year.

      • Bullrush

        Well talking about the loss to Scotland is relevant as well given:

        1. It was less than 12 months ago.

        2. The players you will have at the RWC are pretty much the same guys who played that game.

        3. The same coach from that loss will be coach at the RWC.

        4. A missed kick at goal could have won the game for Wallabies. Sound like any other games recently? How about this quote from the main article above:

        “Which brings me to the final hair-shirted myth; the missed kicks didn’t lose the Wallabies the game, their general poor performance did. Again, what sort of sense is this?”

        But the Scotland game in itself isn’t my point. My point is that any All Black coach who had the kind of record that Robbie Deans has had over the past 3 years would have been long gone by now. There is NO WAY the kiwi public could stomach the All Blacks losing to Scotland. (Yes, we have 2 draws to them – about 30 and 50 years ago.)

        My point, again, is this – Deans has the luxury of being able to blood new players, try different combinations etc (whether enforced by injury or otherwise) and simply say after a loss “it’s all about the World Cup.” NZers expect the ABs to win over 80% of the time (if not all the time – no matter how unrealistic that may be) regardless of injuries, player drain etc. Graham Henry has delivered on that.

        People forget that Robbie Deans played an instrumental part in the All Black RWC loss in 2003. There was no forward pass or dodgy reffing on that day against Australia. We just got beat. John Mitchell may have been the Head Coach but if you ever hear or read Tana Umaga or Christian Cullen talk about it, you get a bigger picture of how that coaching set-up really worked.

        Perhaps he’s learned from that time but surely, SURELY as a Wallaby fan you must be worried when you lose 10 straight to the ABs and lose to……you know the rest.

        Just like All Black fans worry about whether we’ll finally win the RWC again next year :)

  • Steve

    @ KangaDingo

    What small fry Kiwi Mentality I was only pointing out that NZ has not always had the best team leading into world cups.
    And you are saying you throw games between world cups. Awesome I want to support that team!!

    I can tell you right now Robbie Deans would much rather be in Grahame Henry’s situation at the moment than his own.
    But 12 months is a long time in any sport and none of this will have any bearing on who wins the world cup. The team that can string together 6 wins in a row will win the world cup.
    It might even be the Poms then we’ll all be depressed

  • KangaDingo

    yes, sure that all happened,
    its all part of Dingo Deans’s master plan 2 take out the big 1 next yr.
    Just go 2 & read between the lines of thier “confident” chatter in regard 2 next yr.
    Their all worried that Deans looks like he’s on track 2 pass the abs by this time nxt yr.
    I’m confident.
    Just remember that the average Aus rugby fan is white collar who is used 2 long term investments paying off down the track.
    The average kiwi fan is blue collar whos favorite saying is “gone like last weeks pay”
    & dont look 2 far ahead.
    Dingo Deans was always a long term investment with the ultimate prize in mind.

    U gotta remember that in OZ the average person hasnt heard of Tri Nations etc,
    But even ur staunchest AFL player from Adelaide has heard of the rugby wc.
    Wc is the only rugby event that will grab the attention of the average Aussie.

    • Steve

      Your coach is a KIWI!!! farmer they don’t come much more blue collar than that.

      • KangaDingo


        Yes, but he is the employee,
        not the employer.
        I myself are from the land & blue collar.
        Lived in both Aus & NZ.

        U guys had ur chance 2 get him, but passed on it.
        I bet he’ll b an ab coach 1 day,
        unless he gets a farm in Qld & decides 2 stay.

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  • Solid entry. I was checking out something like this a bit earlier. Nice to see it covered. You know, I need to make my site theme more like this.


Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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