I just came back from the Melbourne Bledisloe Cup Test between Australia and New Zealand three hours ago. How am I feeling at 12:35am in the morning? Well I’m hurting big time! BIG TIME!
I was looking forward to this game for months and to get such a result hurts. Australia likely won’t regain the Bledisloe Cup this year, and it’s been many painful years.
I went to the game with a Swedish friend of mine, who to his credit seemed to grasp the fundamentals of the game, despite this being his first live game.
A few months ago, I showed him the Sydney Test from the 2000 Blesidloe Cup series on YouTube (it’s shown there in its entirety). He seemed to enjoy the game and all the quick scoring, but I warned him, “Don’t expect such scoring in the game we go to. There aren’t many games that have such quick tries and weird scores.”
Boy was I wrong!
A few minutes in when Carter had his kick charged down, I couldn’t believe Australia’s luck. Such a lucky score against the All Blacks!
I had such a good feeling after that moment.
I also sat next to a South African man who has lived in Australia since 1986 and noted to him, “Nass Botha wouldn’t have his kick charged down.” He said, “No it would be down our end of the ground, and if a flanker did charge up to him quickly, he’d tap him on the shoulder as he ran by… didn’t like to tackle though.”
Shortly after Australia returned the favour and I couldn’t believe the game I was watching.
There were two areas of main concern from my standpoint in the crowd. Firstly, Australia were having trouble re-gathering kick-offs, and if Rod MacQueen were Australian coach he’d have torn his hair out watching this game. It was one of his things: you win every kick-off!
The second thing was the Wallabies were falling off their tackles, although I do appreciate it’s difficult to bring Brad Thorn down.
McCaw’s try came from a great tactical kick from Carter, similar to how the All Blacks won the Sydney Test last year, only then it was with a penalty.
With the exception of Berrick Barnes, I don’t think many Australian players would think to make a clever weighted kick like that.
I still don’t know how the ball squirted out from the side of the ruck as I didn’t have the advantage of watching it on TV with replays. But it did and McCaw scored.
It seemed like the referee, Joubert, was having a bit of an influence near the end of the second half, and it started killing the game for me.
At halftime, I didn’t know what to make of the game. My astute Swedish friend asked me, “Are the All Blacks playing well or have they just been fortunate?” He knew enough of rugby to ask me this question. He saw how much possession Australia had, and reminded me Australia had the ball more than New Zealand.
I honestly didn’t know the answer. I’m at a total loss to explain how the game went New Zealand’s way so much.
The only one thing that stood-out to me was Australia’s ineptness at the kick-off, which actually hurt the side tremendously.
The All Blacks were certainly playing well, but they were scoring tries quicker than I’ve ever seen them score, in a game where Australia seemed to be playing well? It made no sense and still makes no sense to me.
The things I’ve come to associate with the Wallabies when they’re losing just weren’t there.
For example, I’m not a fan of Matt Giteau’s kicking in general play. And last year he ran laterally many times to his detriment.
Last night he seemed fine to me. It’s as if the Wallabies were taking off where they left against South Africa by keeping the ball in hand. He made a good break early on in the game. He missed a few kicks he should have got, but it wasn’t a matter of win or lose. He played well, I felt.
There was one period just after the halftime break when the Wallabies tried going sideways before going forwards. Aside from that they struck me as actually playing quite well.
Before the game I was wondering where Australia would score their tries, and to their credit they scored two tries after plenty of effort. It was satisfying that they didn’t give up after they were well and truly beaten, unlike last year in the 3rd Bledisloe Cup game.
I don’t know how much Drew Mitchell being red-carded cost Australia, but it seemed to me like two tries were scored by stretching the Wallabies from one end to the other. My South Africa acquaintance noted, “Look how they’re using the width of the field.”
David Pocock and Rocky Elsom stood out the most for me out of the Wallabies, a bit like last week. Pocock looks like a mountain over ball, and just as I can appreciate how hard it is to bring Brad Thorn down, so too can I appreciate how hard it is to move Pocock.
I left the game feeling absolutely terrible and aghast at how Australia lost that game by such a huge margin.
Giteau hardly kicked, Genia seemed to play well and got good ball, Pocock was excellent, Rocky made some yards, Ashley-Cooper showed guts… what was missing? Why weren’t Australia competitive?
Australia haven’t won in New Zealand since around 2001 I think. So it’s unlikely Australia will win the Bledisloe Cup. They haven’t held the Cup since 2002. As a fan I’m hurting.
What’s worse is I think Australia had a chance to win some silverware in 2008/09. In 2008 Australia were so close to winning the Tri Nations in Brisbane, but they fell away for 15 minutes and New Zealand won.
In 2009, I did not rate the All Blacks a great side. Players like Mils were out of form, and Stephen Donald seemed a liability at five-eighth. The All Blacks were pretty below their par against South Africa last year, and if I can get away with saying this: they were below their best against Australia. It’s just that Australia were worse.
This year the All Blacks are starting to look good again, and for once they might actually be timing things right for the World Cup.
In five of the Wallabies last eight games against New Zealand Australia have led at halftime. Australia fell away for many reasons.
I just don’t know what to make of that. It fees like they should have won at least one Test.
If I was Robbie Deans I’d ask two questions of his players:
1. What do you think we need to do to win the Bledisloe Cup, and I don’t want to hear anything that hasn’t worked in the last two/three years?
2. What do we need to do to do it?
The thing about Bob Dwyer’s World Cup Wallabies is Dwyer challenged his players to be the best players in their position. By his estimation you needed about five players who’d make a World XV.
If New Zealand have a better second row in Brad Thorn, what makes him better? Why aren’t you like him? What aren’t you doing to reach that standard? If you’re just hoping to contribute to the game, go away, you have to be the best. That’s the Dwyer way.
I don’t get that sense with these Wallabies, which is perhaps why Dwyer said a couple of months ago that Australia can’t win the World Cup, because they have no players who’d make a World XV.
Look I’ll stop there. It’s now 1:17am in the morning.
That was one incredibly frustrating game and I am one incredibly frustrated fan!