They say a week is a long time in sport and that rang true for the All Blacks at Twickenham in the World Cup semi-final, as they turned in a performance that contrasted dramatically with their 62-13 thrashing of France the previous week.
The tougher opponent and the wet conditions were key factors in the match being so different to seven days earlier, while tactical kicking and work at the breakdown were specific areas that the All Blacks executed poorly.
The All Blacks’ opponent in the final would have taken great heart watching the Kiwis’ first-half performance, which saw them trail 12-7 at the break. Any time they got momentum they turned the ball over, generally by a poorly judged grubber kick.
These dubious tactics continued in the second half, but their bench once again proved the decisive edge – Beauden Barrett’s injection into the game after 48 minutes delivering the most meaningful impact.
South Africa’s lack of any backline continuity or creative players with x-factor ensured they were never a genuine threat to cross the All Blacks’ try line.
The All Blacks are through to the final, but their semi-final performance will have done more to give their opponent the belief they can win it than calm Kiwi nerves.
Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has learned the hard way that the All Blacks can do no wrong even when not playing rugby. Playing in the T20 Black Clash between a Black Caps’ XI and the world’s best rugby team, 15-game emerging star Jordie Barrett, younger brother of Beauden, castled Fleming with a searing […]