Wallabies v All Blacks Preview: Champs or Chumps
All Blacks

Wallabies v All Blacks Preview: Champs or Chumps?

Wallabies v All Blacks Preview: Champs or Chumps?

Has his work cut out

You can build all you like but there comes a time when you have to stand and deliver. Now is that time.

The Wallabies did deliver in Brisbane against a misfiring Springbok side who had been twice beaten up by the All Blacks in the previous few weeks.

There’s no doubt that this was our best chance for a win in the Tri-Nations and we played somewhere near our potential to grab it. And let’s not downplay our efforts because it was pretty damn good on the night and reinvigorated the side.

That was then, this is now. It’s our turn to face the music. Do we have the capacity to defeat this quality Kiwi side and come out smelling of roses, or is it going to be chump city again for us?

The last time we defeated them was this time two years and seven games ago, in Sydney for a 34 – 19 win. Crikey, those were the days when Lote Tuqiri and Tim Tam Muppet were playing for us, it seems a lifetime ago?

There are four forwards and three backs from the run-on side that day going round again (Rock, Sharpie, Squeeky, Cat, Gits, Sookface and AAC) who’ll remember exactly what it takes to defeat this juggernaut.

We’ve only won twice at home against the All Blacks in the past five years – they’ve defeated us on four occasions.

So, there really isn’t much of a home ground advantage for us. As opposed to the Blicks, when we last defeated them in New Zealand in 2001. Fortress Aotearoa has proven to be virtually unconquerable.

Our record against the Bokke away isn’t that much better either: won 2, lost 10 in the past decade.

There is a really hard edge to this All Black team, not that there usually isn’t but the Bob Dwyer adage about having a solid core of world class players is starting to ring true with these guys.

You couldn’t argue too loudly that Woodcock, Mealamu, McCaw, Carter, Muliaina and a few others wouldn’t look out of place in a world team. But its the next tier of player like Kaino, Read, Thorn and Nonu who are giving them that flint-like edge.

When you look at the various forward battles that are going to take place on the weekend – scrum, lineout, ruck, maul, tackle – it’s hard to envision where exactly the Wallabies are going to have an advantage. The strength, experience and confidence of the Kiwi pack is formidable.

Berrick you're my bitch

The All Blacks have the best scrum in the Tri-Nations and my feeling is that we’re going to have a devil of a time getting clean ball cleared from the No 8.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the pitch will be a factor in all this?

We’ve seen their counter-attacking capabilities in the past few weeks and two bonus points against the Bokke is a real indication of where they’re sitting at the moment.

The backlines look fairly evenly matched but I think they might have a real advantage in the midfield with Nonu and Smith playing out of their skin.

They’ve got a rampaging bash it up No 12, with a ball player of vision at 13. It’s just so well balanced and a stronger attacking unit than Barnes and Horne.

One indicator of strength is usually the bench, as you’re only as good as your depth. That’s positive news for us then because their bench looks about as inexperienced as ours….

The All Blacks will be their usual abrasive and physical self at the breakdown. They’ll virtually have the Tri-Nations sewn up if they defeat us on Saturday. You can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be going in for the kill.

Despite our great performance last weekend, I think this will be played at another level and I just can’t see our tight five and midfield matching them.

The promise that we are on track for the RWC needs affirmation. It is time to deliver. Please make me pleasantly surprised?

Lance says:  ‘All Blacks by 11

  • Joel

    Think you might be right there Lance. 15 Bro’s in a blick shirt are going to pulp your blokes into gay goldentime.

    Man for man I’m looking for a position where there is a superior Wallaby and I’m only coming up Sanchez.

    Better hope that Craig Joubert is as pissed off with Sir Richard the Untouchable as the rest of South Africa.

    Come on Wallabies, let’s make the tri-nations a contest into August!

  • There’s a lot of that I can’t argue with Lance, but here’s where I’ve given myself a few more glimmers of light

    Looking back at last year, we tend to remember Wellington & Honkers rather than Auckland & Sydney. We were damn close in those first games, who knows where we may have got to should we have pulled them off (yeah, yeah, if and buts…). Another year on with this young team, and I’m thinking we may just be better prepared to close a game like that out.

    Also, when in the lead in those games under the old ruck interpretations, we tried to play a style of game that didn’t suit our skill sets. This year we just might be able to keep the momentum going more, and reap more benefits through points. No AB team looks good going backwards and Sir Richie becomes yellow card prone in these situations.

    Here’s where I think the gameplan will be key. Fast ball to ball carriers two passes out from the ruck reaped dividends for the Boks vs the ABs, as the NZ pack chased the breakdown leaving space wider.

    Losing QC is a shitter, but it sure does shore up a hole in defence. Our midfield has wrapped this one up before, both internationally and in the S14 this year. It might be my imagination, but I think Gits is starting to hit a little form as well.

    Key Wallabies players to step up for me will be Brown and Genia in a ruck clearing capacity. Benn having his game legs back will also be a big boost. The rest will have to play their arses off as well, but hey, why not?

    • D.

      Just to add to your comments. If Sookface didn’t go off in the scond half last year, he probably would have slotted a field goal to win one of those matches. Remember Gits had a brain fart and tried to score a try instead of a field goal from 10 meters out after full time?

      I think the boys are going to be fired up and will surprise a few people on the weekend. Wallabies by 5

  • Gav CT

    From an SA viewpoint…..I honestly can’t see the Wallaby’s beating this All Black side. Your scrum is still creaking a bit…..and with the suspension of Quade Cooper….I think this puts quite a damper on the backline……..I just can’t see you being able to man-up in each and every position.

    I suspect that without Coops being there Carter is going to enjoy himself a LOT more….and having a fairly small backline….it’s going to be tough tackling those big AB backs all afternoon. The Wallaby’s made good progress against the Boks…..but remember Bok rugby is in a woeful state right now….so might not be the best yardstick to measure off.

    Personally – I don’t think there’s a team on the planet right now that can live with this All Black side for 80 minutes – so I see them taking the game on Saturday…..I certainly don’t see them mauling the Wallaby’s as they did the Boks…..but I do see a 10-12 point margin by the end of the game.

    Good luck Wallaby’s……I have a feeling you’re going to need it…….

    • Will Johnson

      haha Hey Gav – welcome to Aus rugby mate.

      I think most of the blokes here would agree with you. I tipped emotionally though and have gone for the wallabies by 5, brain says “are you kidding” but I live in hope as I have with the wallabies for the last 7yrs.

      Maybe your Boks can regroup in SA and use much of the talent that did not tour – I suspect though that the quota system will be a thorn in SARUs side for many years.

      Tomorrrow’s game – Barnes needs to keep ball in hand, and if he does kick it it needs to be for territory and out, not into the arms of an all-black. Gits needs to be controlling the backline through multiple phases and be everywhere he can. Forwards are my main concern, I want to see some agro from Dean Mumm, and more of the same effort from Brown from last weeks game. Ma’Afu needs to keep improving, and at least hold his side of the scrum…i could go on, AB’s are so hot right now though!

  • ben

    I am sorry Lance I disagree with you on quite a few points…..the AB”s are in some form SOME they won twice at HOME…..remember this is a side that was beaten 3 times by the boks last year.

    I really feel the Wallabies have something in them……Our backrow matches the ABs, with Rocky comfortably better than kaino and Reide comfortably better than Brown…..Bam Bam will be all Ritchie can handle as we saw in the Super 14.

    Other areas of focus…..Horne could really give Smith a going over…..the hit he made on Flourie who is without pier at 13 at the moment, show Horne is ready at this level and as we all know has played within himself this year. Horne needs to rattle smith early…horne has him in size speed and guts..needs to put it all together.

    Genia is another player who will dominate his opposite. Mitchel and Cory jane doesnt warry anybody in gold……JOC and Rockacoco….JOC completely outplayed Habana and look for him to do this to Joe this weekend.

    These are 2 relatively well matched teams…..tight head is our real issue, but since Maafuu saw plenty of franks during the super 14 should not be a cake walk for the AB’s

    All Blacks are weak in the line out…Sharpe could and should cause some real issues.

    If the men in gold stay with the AB’s and continue to play…watch for the look of “Oh No” that we Gold supporters recognize in teh Ab players when they realize a loss is at hand.

    Loss of Cooper is HUGE…..Barnes should be playing 10 (my only complaint)

    Dont also forget this is a full strength AB team…if we beat them Saturday, what are they going to do when they see the addition of Alexander, TPN, Horwill, Ioane, Cliffy and Cooper.

    To the AB fans…you had better win or the alarm bells should be going off LOUD, this wallaby side will only get 30-50% better over the next 15 months when we have our full compliment.

    • Podacity

      Ab’s are missing Ali Williams and Andrew Hore.

  • Rocky Elboa

    If we are going to win this we need to do it in the forwards
    Scrum; Woodcock is a myth, Ma’afu needs to continue his good work around the park and back it up with some decent scrummaging
    Lineout; We should be on even keel here at least
    Breakdown…. hmmmm if Rocky and Pocock can lift again after last week and get some solid help from the rest of the forwards we will do well, I think this area will comedown to the bench and ultimately the Ref

    Genia will need to continue being the little general and control play
    If we can keep pressure on Carter and use Gits and Barnes left and right boot tactical kicking game the we can play the game down there
    JUST MAKE SURE YOU KICK THE F-ING BALL OUT
    Add a little magic (backline play has always baffled me) and hey presto we could win this

  • Seb V

    Loss of Cooper puts a massive blow on our backline attack, His long passing game really opens up space out wide which barnes and gits are just not capable of. Although i must admit barnes seems to lift his game versing the ABs. Gits crabbing at flyhalf is my biggest worry, it could kill our whole backline. If we can keep the intensity up with hard tackles and being dominate at the breakdown we have a chance but again without Cooper im really worried about our attack.

    That ruling is a load of shit 2 tri-nations matches and the others only get 1. Bullshit!

  • Scoot

    I find myself agreeing with Ben which is bizarre as I am kind of a Glass Is Half empty supporter at the moment. I guess that is part of the schizophrenic nature of being a one eyed supporter. Deep down and especially against NZ you are an eternal optimist.

    The veneer on the NZ season was well and truly coated on by Peter De Villiers. His selection and tactics along with the two early yellows handed this NZ team ridiculously easy gains. So easy you should not see them at this level.

    Down to 14 NZ could simply throw it wide where a hapless JDV knew he was out gunned for speed. It was school boys stuff.

    Their is no point analysing the backs. The forwards simply have to front up with proper mongrel and Brown has to find another gear.

    This NZ team has cracks under pressure. It’s whether we can apply that for 80 minutes.

    REF is hugely important. Significantly he isn’t Northern Hemi and blinded by an All Black mythological Aura. I swear I saw the Irish guys slipping out the iPhone for picks of the Haka before the kick off…. If the breakdown is policed then NZ will have problems.

    • I swear I saw the Irish guys slipping out the iPhone for picks of the Haka before the kick off…

      nize

    • ben

      Excellent Scoot…….we have the artillary….time to front up.

  • Robson

    I can understand why Lance has gone for the ABs and there is just no doubt in my mind that on “last” match performances the ABs are better than the WBs by 10 to 15 points. But this is this match not the last match and the dynamics are different and the only value history has for us is that nothing stays the same forever.

    Cooper is a loss, but we need to remember that for all the tri nations matches played last year Cooper wasn’t a factor. He didn’t play in any of them, so in reality we haven’t lost anything, it’s just that we haven’t gained anything either.

    Of the matchups the most dangerous one for the Wallabies is on the left wing where Drew Mitchell marks Cory Jayne. In my opinion Jayne is the most dangerous player in the ABs. Like Hosea Gear he can score tries or create scoring opportunities out of virtually nothing. Unlike Joe Rococoko he doesn’t need five metres to wind up. His counter attack is unpredictable, searingly fast and enormously difficult to snuff out even when he looks like he’s been wrapped up. On top of that his defence is excellent. Mitchell will need to go up a couple of cogs to keep this guy under control. James O’Connor might look like he’s got the herculean task out of the two wingers. I think his task is slightly the less onerous, but if smoking Joe gets away on James there are going to be problems.

    Another one of the matchups I am really looking forward to is Benny and Owen Franks. Franks can bench press a couple of bulldozers (one in each hand, but only little ones) and Benny was at sixes and sevens in the scrums a bit last week. But he has probably found his scrummaging and running legs again which will be good if he has; because he’s going to need them. Ma’afu is a worry against Woodcock. Brown is a bigger worry at No. 8 when the AB push comes on because Richard has trouble dealing with the scrum going backwards (like all No. 8s, but some cope better than others). I would have played Rocky at No. 8 for this game and brought Hodges on for No. 6. Pocock and McCaw?? Who knows. Pocock had a great game last week and there is no reason why he can’t fire against Richie tomorrow. It will also be an intriguing match up.

    Backs are a bit of a lucky dip. Gits looked like he was finding form at 12 last week, now Robbie has chucked him back in the 10 role. Not a visionary move IMHO. Horne v Smith, well I agree with whoever it was that said that Horrne needs to hang the biggest tackle he’s ever made on Smith the first time Smith gets the ball. Berrick v Carter. A non event in my opinion. If Carter gets away on Berrick it won’t be from set play and vice versa. AAC at fullback – gold plated stuff.

    So the individual matchups tell us really very little. It’s how the team goes collectively that will determine the result. Forwards need to reproduce what they did last week. Backs need to produce something with a bit of flair and the whole team needs to find new levels of accuracy in ball transference. But for ball handling errors we could have taken the test out at Brisbane with two bonus points and put 40 points on the Boks.

    What is there to say that with the same opportunities tomorrow, there can’t be an improvement in executing the fundamentals when the chances do arrive? What is to say that we can’t stifle the ABs attack better than the Boks did? In reality these are the only two areas of the game which will determine whether the WBs win or lose.

    Fundamentals and defence.

  • Who Needs Melon

    BANG!

    • Jnor

      I thought it was “BOOM!” but in princple and very reluctantly I’m going to have to agree. I know it’s a cop-out but at least having ne expectations means less overall disappointment; something we’ve all had far too much of in the last few years…

  • Zeno

    Still with the cringe, Lance? Oh, the All Blacks are supermen, they’re awesome, they’re going to smash us.

    • Lance Free

      Sadly that’s how its looking to me going on form, history and experience Zeno.

      Winning 2 tests out of 15 against them in the past 5 years doesn’t really inspire me with confidence – does it for you?

      Their run-on side has exactly 700 test caps. We have about half of that….

      I hope they prove me wrong but unfortunately (and again) the ABs are looking as awesome as ever.

  • goldjumper

    Difficult to disagree with Lance’s view. This is a good ABs side with plenty of self belief. The ability of the ABs to develop their dominant culture makes them # 1. The side is good but it’s far from great with perhaps only three or four world top 20 players. At semi final time RWC03 I couldn’t find a Wallaby with a #1 rating in any position compared with an AB side loaded with talent.
    What I hope for tomorrow nite is not a win (although it would be nice) but a solid performance that matches the ABs in commitment and intensity with a scoreline that reflects the contest. These guys need to stand up and whatever comes at them they get stuck in. The Wallabies and I suspect most of their supporters will be happy with a close loss that earns respect from the ABs and themselves.

  • ScrumJunkie

    I´m betting the house on a click, but I´m expecting a bang.

  • RedsHappy

    Thanks LF. Many excellent points.

    For me, you under-referenced two major factors. The Wallabies’ tendency for ‘soft mind’ under pressure, especially when they need to repeat a good game a second time, and Austin’s ‘underlying truths’ analysis relating how the Wallabies’ handling and related consistency-of-skill KPIs have been sub-world-class all of June, and into July as well (and in some cases materially worse than our S14 counterparts, even though it’s the same players in both groups). If these areas aren’t fixed on Saturday, they will be no chance of a win for Oz, and all the fan-love in the world will make not a jot of difference. (Btw, IMO, these two problems are related.)

    Assuming the core skills KPIs get fixed (and it’s alarming there were not after 4+ June Tests), I am more optimistic for this Saturday than previously. Why? I saw on Saturday the glimmers of the ‘hard mind’ needed to win the biggest games. It was there at the breakdown and loose ball contest zone for almost all of 80, that’s where it was, right there, neon lights on. That ferocity and application was exceptional, and its consistency was most un-Wallaby-like. There is just some kind of dawn moment of new psychology emerging in this team – I think Genia, Elsom, Cooper and Pocock are its principal bearers – that I have not witnessed for a very long time. If we can sustain that without Cooper, we have a chance, because IMO what has been the X-factor whenever we have beaten the ABs is Australia’s capacity for magnificent flashes of intuitive, daring rugby brilliance just at the right moment when the ABs cannot respond, and when they least expect it. We never, ever win through brute force and ‘better players’ really, we win because we can be uniquely Australian rugby artists when the ABs are being just fine – and the best – rugby athletes.

    The final thing for me was the transformation of Deans in the box and this week. At last, I sense this cool, Kiwi-internaliser, paid observer and analyst really turned local, his heart, his fear, his future, his core conjoined with the anxiety and fear and fraught passion of it all and he became one with these players. Huge positive. Combined with this team’s own knowledge that fate is awaiting them now, the excuses are gone for good, and Dean’s inner self really connecting with them, we could forge a moment of glory, and this is often how the best wins happen. The right human emotions connecting with a game-changing piece of brilliance.

    • Lance Free

      Agree with you RedsHappy – good stuff. Unfortunately for you ‘rugby wonks’ (I use that term kindly) I’m restricted to a general overview and about 700 words…..

  • Bobas

    Gits will be wearing the 10 jersey but he’ll just be there in defense. Barnes will take Nonu right out in that part of the game. I expect Barnes to get more ball in first reciever then Giteau does and Gits will be 2nd reciever in attack.

    Naming Barnes in 12 is gonna make the all blacks defend around the ruck more thinking Genia and Gits are just gonna crab around and try and step through the edges. Genia will be looking to give quick ball to Barnes and show the allblacks that MITCHELL JOC HORNEY and AAC are quicker than they are. on a slippery pitch theres nothing better than spinning it wide where there is space and making the cover defense fall over with a good inside step. I just hope if Barnes does try and kick it behind the others know its on and we have good chasers and counter attack defense.

  • Robson

    WOW, BANG, CLICKETY, BANG, CLICKETY, BANG, BANG…………….click.

    Reds Happy, you’re right, I do think a psycho shift has happened with Deans. And I do think it tumbled out on to the park last Saturday too. Winning and losing are in the mind. You can only do what you think you can do. If you don’t think it, doing it will be impossible. So the game needs to be first won in the Wallabies minds. I have a sneaky little suspicion that it might be surruptiosly creeping in there. The tide will turn one day. Why not tomorrow night.

    • Lance Free

      Robbo – do you mean Shitty Shitty Bang Bang?

      • Robson

        That’s not what I mean, but I spose it could go like that.

  • Groucho

    This is clearly an AB side in some good early form, but I think people are getting a bit carried away. Their wins against the Boks, while more assured than ours, were in the same ballpark as ours, and they had a very scratchy win against Wales, mixed in with some better performances. But this ‘verge of greatness’ rhetoric is the usual aural hype in my opinion. Given the poor quality of the PdV Boks, Australia is the first quality side they’ll face all season.

    So, are we a quality side? Of course we are. Are we good enough to win this Saturday? Maybe.

    The first thing to remember is how many players we have missing. Nau, Alexander, Horwill, Palu, Cooper, Ioane and arguably Hynes from the run-on team. If I can count that is 7 first choice players. Sure, this is building depth but it means we’re WAY weaker than we could be.

    The second thing to note is that our backline has only fired once this year, against England. The forwards have only fired once, against SA. But, in those games the individual units fired very well indeed. If we can put those parts together then we have the beating of these ABs, who after all are about the same side that lost 3-zip to SA last year.

    Personally, I don’t think we’re quite there and in my head I think we may fall up short on Saturday. But if we play to our potential we can win and win well. The ABs do not play well on the back foot and this Wallaby backline has the potential to get well behind them. If the forwards man up like last weekend then I can see us taking this.

    • Lance Free

      Good points. I also think we ‘could’ win but I don’t reckon we will. The All Blacks are without Andrew Hore, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Ali Williams, Isaia Toeava, Stephen Donald, Mike Delany and Jason Eaton (the first five named would probably be in the test 22 if fit). I guess that’s why both benches are relatively inexperienced.

      • RedsHappy

        Correct LF re ABs’ injuries (and it’s more or less always like this, just the names are different). And we Aussies surely got to stop this constant use of injuries as excuses for anticipated losses and ‘not at our best’, etc. All teams have them, you have to build contingencies and team strategies around the certainty of X% of injured players. And we can guarantee that as the Hynes-es, Alexanders etc come back, there will be new injured this season to take their places.

        • Groucho

          RedsHappy, if you let me mention the injuries, I’ll let you mention the coach. ;-)

      • Ciaron

        I think you’ll find the only black jersey Donald will get now is a supporters one.
        he’s ggooooooooonnnnnnneeeeeee.

  • Roland

    A few dropped balls went to hand last week and we would be looking at a 35 point drubbing. Home advantage and to play better then last week, we will trounce the blacks tomorrow. Can’t wait for Sunday so I can say I told you so. WB by 15+. Good day to you all.PS: I’m never wrong

    • Richo

      But the balls were dropped and the tries weren’t scored. And that’s that.

  • Robson

    Roland, I think the problem is that we do know our rugby. It would probably be more relaxing knowing less.

  • Gav CT

    Hey Will…..thanks for the URL…..nice site this!! Good insight in rugby views and of course always nice to see how it’s taken on the other (and for the moment….far better….)side of the pond!! LOL

  • Antony

    I’m going with last weeks hopes, if the boys play with guts and act like it really means something to them we’re in with a chance. Its all in the guts.
    Injuries, so are we hoping no one is going to get hurt all next year? There will be a few front rowers and a few backliners that should be in the green and gold for RWC11 that will be watching the show on TV – modern rugby is so ridiculously fast and poweful that the injuries are just going to increase, especially in Super 15. But Saffas and Kiwis have the same problems.
    All Blacks, we are talking about the strongest rugby team in the world, but they are also the biggest chokers in the world – would’nt be too scared of em.
    Sookface to monster Nonu!
    Get the mongrel going and we are in with a chance.
    Rocky, don’t let Richie take over the reffing.
    GO WALLABIES!!

  • Tommy

    Extremely nervous. I’m not sure if we can pip the blacks. If we can’t, I at least want to see some real mongrel & spite in the forwards & some Blacks in hospital…

  • NZ

    ozzies were lucky it wasn’t 60-80 more points, all blacks were not happy with the 2nd half don’t be surprised they make up for it Christchurch you thought this was bad its going to get worse. There’s a lot the ABs will be working on to really teach you a lesson. But yea good luck feel sorry for deans sure the NZ will make him feel welcome. NZ by 80 points.

  • Skiwi

    I was disappointed for OZ with the second half red card, but both sides were warned and I thought he was even handed. Overall I was happy with the ref, I don’t think there can be too many complaints?

    15 vs 15 I still think we would of had the wood on you.

    “True” dominance wasn’t in evidence in any aspect of the game, the difference (in my one eyed view) was some individual spark complimented with good support play.

    Cheers
    Skiwi

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@@LanceFree

Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

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