Are the Wallabies on the rise as the All Blacks decline?

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Michael Cheika was thoughtful and considered when he summed up the Wallabies’ splendid 23–18 victory against an uncharacteristically niggly, error-prone All Blacks side at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

    “I am happy for the players,” he told reporters, “because they have been working very hard.”

    This was the right response from the Wallabies coach. It is the players, after all, who have to actually play the Test. In this Test, the Wallabies played with an intensity, especially on defence, and a rugby nous that was superior to that of the All Blacks.

    They had the resilience and courage, too, to hold off the traditional All Blacks surge in the final minutes of the Test when the visitors were pressing for another of their trademark Perils-Of-Pauline escape from the oblivion of defeat.

    In the crucial middle section of the second half, the All Blacks gave away seven successive penalties. And towards the end of the Test, when they needed a penalty and then later a converted try to win, they continued with some stupid off-the-ball play that gave away penalties and stopped two promising attacks in their tracks.

    The Test ended when Sam Cane knocked-on during a pick and drive attack just inside the Wallabies 22 that had the potential for a winning try under the posts.

    What does not destroy a team can make it stronger. This seems to be the message the Wallabies gave to the All Blacks in those crucial final minutes of the Test.

    Teams playing Test rugby perform at the level their opposition allows them to. The Wallabies, on attack and defence, did not allow the All Blacks to play their usual all-skills, high-tempo ensemble game. For once, they won the battle of the advantage line. And they built this advantage into a famous ‘Pure Gold’ (according to a Sun-Herald headline) victory.

    The All Blacks became increasingly rattled. Some of the players, especially Dane Coles, totally lost the plot and resorted to cheap obstruction tactics and verballing of Wallabies who had got under their skin.

    One of the golden rules of sport is that you lose the game when you lose your composure. When this loss of composure leads to a run of penalties against your side, it is difficult to win a Test. This is what happened to the All Blacks. They lost the mind game and, as a consequence, lost the game.

    The Wallabies won the battle of composure and this victory enabled them to score the last three points (a long-range penalty by my man of the match Reece Hodge) in the 78th minute that entrenched the win.

    Ned Hanigan Wallabies

    Cheika also made another important point during his impressive media conference: “But the end game is to bring home the Bledisloe Cup and we came short there this year. So as enjoyable as the win was, not winning the Cup resonates with me.”

    This is a smart assessment. It is generally hard for any dominant sports team to win a one-off Test when it has already won the series. Motivation to win trophies is the engine that drives successful teams. It is hard in sport (think of Steve Waugh’s dominant Australian Test sides) to invariably play with a winning intensity when the series victory has already been recorded.

    The All Blacks had won the Bledisloe Cup. Moreover, the team was without Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick (a critical loss), Ben Smith, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Nehe Milner-Skudder, all players who would be expected to be in the starting line-up. As Paul Cully pointed out in the Sydney Morning Herald, Israel Folau had twice the number of caps of the All Blacks back three combined.

    But even with the inexperience of the All Blacks side being conceded, it is difficult not to enthuse about the quality of the Wallabies’ victory, their first against the All Blacks since 2015.

    It seems to me that this win has resonances of the third Test victory against the All Blacks in 1990, after losses in the first two Tests, a win that foreshadowed the triumph in the 1991 Rugby World Cup victory.

    I say “resonances” because the All Blacks, at this stage in the Rugby World Cup 2019 cycle, remain the favourites to win the tournament.

    But, and this is the crucial points in my view, the Wallabies have turned the corner after a dismal run earlier this season and throughout last year. They are in their best position now to make a successful run to the finishing line since their defeat in the final of Rugby World Cup 2015.

    The first point to make in an assessment of the meaning of the Brisbane victory for the Wallabies is that the difficult conditions did not favour their ball-in-hand game. The team now has the has given belief that they can beat the All Blacks.

    You could see the relief and enthusiasm for what they had achieved in the celebrations of the players when the final whistle had sounded.

    Paul Cully had an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Australian rugby has been traumatised by the All Blacks’, where he suggests that losing to the All Blacks has become a habit, and a bad habit at that:

    “Every Wallabies player who puts on the jersey get compared not just with his peers but with an All Black from an era of unusual dominance … I think it has broken some players. They think they wouldn’t get into that team. I also think they are under-selling themselves, but it’s what they think that counts.”

    Interestingly, Cully used Jack Dempsey as an example of a player not rated by Wallabies supporters as being a match for Jerome Kaino or Liam Squire.

    Guess what happened in the Test? Dempsey was awarded the man of the match for his sterling performance in a pack that more than matched the All Blacks in physicality and skills.

    Cully also suggested that the three-Test system, in place for Bledisloe Cup Tests until 2021, should be reduced to two Tests.

    I can’t agree with this. The three-Test system gives the Wallabies their best chance of winning back the Bledisloe Cup as it gives them three chances rather than two of winning two Bledisloe Cup Tests in a single year.

    Lukhan Tui Wallabies

    You have to go back to the 20th century to find examples of the Wallabies winning back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks.

    The second point is that Michael Cheika has finally settled on a squad that can play the Cheika game of ball-in-hand on attack and aggressiveness on defence. The team that took the field at Brisbane was essentially the same side he has selected for the last three Tests.

    Importantly, when Rob Simmons was injured, Lukhan Tui replaced him and showed that he is ready for a starting role in the pack.

    Continuity of selection is crucial for a successful side. All the key positions are now nailed in place for the Wallabies. This means that when someone is injured a new player is more easily fitted into the side.

    With the selection of Marika Koroibete, the Wallabies finally (after Israel Folau was shifted from wing to fullback) have a winger who is a genuine finisher. The Folau–Koroibete combination, in fact, gives the Wallabies two finishers who are about as good as anyone in world rugby.

    Having finishers like this is the equivalent of a power serve in tennis. You get easy points from time to time with one-serve aces instead of having to grind out all your points and risk making a mistake, as the All Blacks did several times close to the Wallabies line.

    I came across an interesting article by William van Rensberg, a South African who has lived in New Zealand and now lives in Australia, titled ‘The number that’s against the All Blacks’.

    Van Rensberg noted that the bookmakers were picking a 14-point margin for the All Blacks which, in his opinion, was wrong. “I would not be surprised,” he wrote, “if the Wallabies bag this one.”

    His reasoning was that the All Blacks’ performances have deteriorated in 2017 over what they achieved in 2016: “The All Blacks are currently scoring fewer tries for every try conceded, or to put it differently, they are letting more and more tries in for every try they score themselves.”

    By way of contrast, “the Wallabies have been able to improve their tries scored to conceded from 2016 to 2017. They clearly have improved both their attacking and defensive abilities.”

    Wayne Smith in the Australian on Saturday pointed out, reinforcing the argument made by van Rensburg, that the Wallabies have scored as many tries in nine Tests in 2017, 39, as they scored in 15 Tests last year.

    On Saturday night it Brisbane, this ratio of an improving Wallabies scoring pattern and a deteriorating All Blacks one played itself out as the home side scored three tries to the two scored by the visitors.

    So what we now have is a Wallabies side on the rise and an All Blacks side on the decline.

    The real issue is whether the low base the Wallabies are rising from will bring them anywhere near the high point the All Blacks are seemingly declining towards.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (378)

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:45am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      Well written Spiro.
      The Wallabies have made a massive leap. They should be proud.
      But The final point is pertinent. Even if we are rising and NZ are declining there is still daylight between the two.
      Let’s not forget it was a series ‘friendly’ ha! And 3 world class players out.

      So well done fellas. Carry on.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:43am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        Not much daylight now, though.

        • October 26th 2017 @ 4:49am
          P2R2 said | October 26th 2017 @ 4:49am | ! Report

          oh yes there is….come a fully fit team with all their players….daylight will be second – BUT – the WBs are getting better…

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:33am
        Noodles said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Clearly the WBs are much improved. Clearly they are competitive. As of today they are showing consistency. Let’s see them tour well and give the NH teams something to think about. IMO we need some depth at the halves, 12 and backrow, where aside from Pocock, there’s not a lot of proven options (and McMahon is about to take his turn in yen).
        I imagine that Cheika’s remarks reflect the fact that he now has the basis for a consistent selection but needs some depth and consistency. Then that squad might aim higher for something like what really great teams achieve. They’re certainly young enough.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm
        Worlds Biggest said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        Well put Catchy, the AB’s with all hands on deck are the benchmark by a good margin. However the Wallas have improved significantly since the dross we saw in June. The key now is they must keep improving. The NH Tour presents a whole new challenge altogether, I am not prepared to claim the Wallas are on the ‘ rise ‘ until we see them in the Spring Tour. Too often they have flirted with us before letting us down time and again.

        This is a very important tour for the Wallabies.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:59pm
          woodart said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

          yes, two wins isnt a streak

      • October 24th 2017 @ 6:50am
        Upfromdown said | October 24th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

        It was good win. The fact that players were missing from NZ is important but not the reason for the loss. Australia lost Matt Giteau & Kane Douglas early in the RWC final. Would it have made a difference to the final? Maybe, but a win is a win and the result is in the record books. Losing player during a game is probably more significant than before a game, but it doesn’t really matter after the fact. As for Saturday, it is not a turning point unless it leads to a run of good performances and a lot of wins for the Wallabies against the ABs and other teams.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:02am
      Fred said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report


      • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:57am
        David said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        No to which? I’d say there’s ample evidence of both NZ’s decline vs all opponents, and of Australia’s overall improvement. What makes you think otherwise?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:06am
          Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Perhaps in the expression one swallow doesnt make a summer maybe?

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:14am
            Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            I think it’s fair to say the Wallabies are relatively on the rise as we are much better than we were in 2016, and I think it is fair to say that the All Blacks are probably relatively on the decline.

            I think the All Blacks will continue to be world rugby’s premier superpower, but I don’t think that they will be as dominant as the 2011-15 version of the team. This was to be expected though, even Federer and Djokovic had to suffer a relative decline from the supreme levels they played at the heights of their careers. The ABs lost 3-4 of the greatest players of all time after the 2015 RWC, so I don’t think they will be quite as good as they were previously.

            That said, the All Blacks have surprised me before, so they could easily do it again and go unbeaten from now and win the next RWC.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:26am
              PiratesRugby said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

              Sorry, I’m with Fred. The ABs lost a dead rubber, away, with a limited squad. The Bledisloe is safe for another twenty years.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:44am
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                Pirates, that’s probably fair to say about the Bled being safe for many years to come.

                That being said, any win over the All Blacks is a cause for celebration.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:55am
                PiratesRugby said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                True Fionn. Folau’s try was a beauty. And look at Genia’s read of the AB’s set piece which led to Hodge’s interception. Brilliant rugby. Those kicks by Hodge kept us in the game. #GoRebels
                But look at the phase that ended with Naholo’s try. How many times did Foley F-up in defence? His poor kicking nearly undid the victory. His pass to Folau which ended with Korobeite scoring was a slow loopy thing which probably only Folau could catch and make something of.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am
                Reverse Wheel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                Gee there’s a surprise

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:04am
                Ian said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                That’s the sort of arrogance & complacency that got Jacenda voted in.
                Let’s see how both of these pan out….

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:33am
                aussikiwi said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                The kind of arrogance that doesn’t even bother to spell the prime minister’s name right, you mean?

                In politics, as in rugby, New Zealand is still ahead by a fair way.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:45am
                zhenry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

                National should be back, their neoliberal economics is saving the world, and look John Key wasn’t a sociopath.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:37am
              Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

              It’s fair to say Aus have improved since the start of the season and that NZ were worse than last season.

              In terms of stating it as a trend, I’d say Aus have a fair bit of improvement in them and wouldn’t disagree that they should continue to improve. I wouldn’t predict NZ will continue to decline – they’ve got some established players who’ll return and some of the newer players will improve.

              In many ways I’m not really disappointed with the result. From an NZ perspective it’ll give the players things to work on and serve as motivation as we near the RWC and from an interest standpoint, no one wants to watch one team dominate for ever.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:45am
                jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

                Jerry that’s about how I see it. Australia have improved on and of the pitch, including with staff.

                NZ have maybe gone off a tad, but are still ahead and could still go back up to their best next year.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am
                markie362 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

                I think part of it is people thought that the abs would drop right off after losing 800 caps after the world cup.but 2016 was a stellar year.hard to keep that up

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 9:25am
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

                agree with all that Jerry

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:00am
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                I think what we’ve really discovered is that is was a complete fallacy that some wanted to push that NZ’s 2nd or 3rd best XV’s would be the best in the world.

                Take 5 of their best XV out and the All Blacks are much closer to the chasing pack.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:53am
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                I don’t think anyone with a lick of sense ever thought that TWAS.

                There were some stages when NZ could have dealt with a bunch of starters missing, but even then in some positions there was a sizeable drop off in quality and we saw last year in Chicago what can happen when that happens with both Whitelock & Retallick out. Sometimes they’ll still be good enough to get up when understrength – eg in the final RC test vs SA, sometimes not. They’re still the deepest team about, but they were always vincible*.

                *FotC reference.

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 10:58am
              Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Are we really better?

              In 2016 we lost all 3 to England, but won at home vs SA.

              This year we lost at home to Scotland, but only drew at home to SA. On the other side of the ledger, we draw away to SA, and won vs NZ.

              If we are better, I think it’s actually only slightly. The fact is we weren’t as bad as perceived last year by virtue of a tough season, but aren’t as good as perceived this year, by virtue of an easy season (The variables being the June opponents, and location of 3rd Bledisloe).

              I think the real question is can this be more easily replicated, or does it take 10 games to hit our straps as a team again next year?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:56am
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                I disagree.

                The South African side last year was atrocious. Truly the worst Springbok team I have ever seen, and we didn’t beat them in South Africa.

                This year we played a decent (although by no means great) Springbok team and held them to a draw in Bloemfontein and at home.

                Although we beat Argentina by similar scores last year the fixture in Aus was only because we scored 3 times in the first 10 mins, then they dominated us in territory and possession for the rest of the match. We won fairly comfortably both times this year, I always felt we were in control even when we were tied in the 60th minute.

                We pushed the All Blacks in the 2nd Bledisloe in Dunedin as well. So we were legitimately very close in 2 of the 3 tests, unlike last year when we lost all 3 comfortably (the third test was not close, we lost by like 25 points in the end).

                Results are similar, but the context of how they played out are different. We are attacking way better, defending better and our set piece isn’t a shambles unlike last year.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 12:11pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                How can you say last year’s team was truly the worst ever when they lost 57-0 this year in a test?

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 1:11pm
                Ralph said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                On the positive side;

                If we believe Genia some major cultural issues have been cleared away. The benefits of this can hardly be under estimated (in my opinion).

                The starting selection seems close to being complete.

                The results “slide” has been arrested and (on most days) the team is very competitive against both the AB’s and SB’s.

                On the work-ons side;

                There is a depth problem in too many positions and the more depth you build the less luck you will need come RWC time on the injury front.

                Consistency hasn’t been bedded in yet.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:54pm
                Cliff (Bishkek) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                TWAS & Fionn – I wonder how we would have gone or “stepped up” against the Bok Team that played the ABs in their last game of the RC.

                I am doubtful that we would have won that game against that Team and that mentality.

                I think we have improved but we have a very long way to go. Our consistency is not yet proved.

                And irrespective of our team, the selections leave a lot to be desired; Hanigan, Robertson – neither should be anywhere near a Wallaby squad. And our back row, although very good on the weekend, is still too small and light and I think that they cannot produce the consistency. And Beale at 12 is definitely not the answer.

                So Cheika still does not impress me.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:04pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

                Because they turned it around and ran the All Blacks really close in Cape Town.

                We lost 53-8 to the Boks in 2008 right after beating them in South Africa the week earlier. Scotland lost 62-8 or whatever it was in the 6N but also managed to beat Wales, Ireland and Australia this year. One poor performance means little if the wider context demonstrates that the team is successful.

                The Boks won 3-0 easily against the French, easily handled Argentina and managed to hold an improved us to a draw twice. Last year they got smashed by NZ twice, lost to Argentina once and almost lost the home fixture also, they lost to a horribly out of form Wales and lost to Italy. This year’s Boks side would never lose to Italy.

                I suspect you are aware of all of this too and are just being provocative.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 2:09pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

                No. I’m just saying I’m not sure how you can determine a team was much worse last year when they suffered a record loss this year.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                And I’ve given you the response you sought. 😛

                But again, I suspect you’re aware from the rest of the Boks’ performances that they’ve improved since the depths of 2016.

                Cliff, agreed on selections. Cheika has a really strong core group of players. It is up to him to make them play to their potential.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

                In SA they appear to have improved.

                But NZ it appeared they’d dropped even lower.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:16pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                I’m not sure how you can definitively say a team has improved when they suffered their worst ever loss in history something like 4 games ago.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:46pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Scotland had their worst ever loss to England in the 6N, but it was nonetheless clear that they had improved on 2014-16 due to them beating Wales and Ireland.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:47pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

                Fair enough.

                Who did SA beat?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:56pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

                France and Argentina 2-0, which they couldn’t do in 2016 😛

              • October 25th 2017 @ 2:50pm
                Suzy Poison said | October 25th 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

                Fionn and Twas.
                Comparing games, up to the same point this year, the stats show the Boks of 2017 are much improved on the 2016 version. This despite the worst loss in Boks history 57-0.

                2016 Bok record: 4 wins, 5 losses (after last AB tour game)
                Boks tries for 15. tries against 27.
                2017 Bok record: 5 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses (after last AB tour game)
                Boks tries for 29. tries against 24

                The Boks have actually only lost twice this year, both times against the AB’s. One was a massacre, the other well you only need to watch the second game to see the improvement.

                I think both the Wallabies and Boks have improved this year. The Boks were starting from a low base though.

            • October 26th 2017 @ 4:52am
              P2R2 said | October 26th 2017 @ 4:52am | ! Report

              hip hip hooray Fionn – I totally agree, but the win does put some wind in the sails of the WBs, I dont really care about other Teams…SA and ENG and FRANCE or NH Teams in general….a good ANZAC fight is much better for both countries….long may it continue…

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:38am
          TC said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          7 tests, 3 wins.

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2017 @ 10:58am
            PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            7 tests 2 losses

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:41am
              Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

              How about undefeated in the last 5.

              Pk – where does AU end up in the rankings after this. Still second but surely no longer on 85.61 or whatever it is.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:54am
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

                Wallabies will stay 3rd.

                Should jump up to about 87.4 points.

                Depending on other factors, if the Wallabies can defeat England in England, they may sneak into 2nd. But it will be close so it’s hard to tell.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:17pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

                Thanks, Twas.

            • Roar Rookie

              October 23rd 2017 @ 11:49am
              Paulo said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

              Is the goal to win, or to ‘not lose’?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:39pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

                Who needs to be a winner, when you can strive for a zero-loss policy. 😉

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:53am
          zhenry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Typical Fairfax mantra, even when ABs are winning: ‘ABs are in Decline’. You’ve left Fairfax Spiro no need to revert to propaganda.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:35am
        Brian George said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Is this the “Fred” who doesn’t comment on Union articles? xx

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:04am
          Fred said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          Sorry couldn’t help myself. It was a good game though, and a good win. Nothing bad to say about the Wallabies performance, apart from needing a new kicker.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:57am
        Jeffrey said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Australia have made a massive improvement in their pack. From being what many considered to be a soft pack, they now have some real tough nuts in there such as Coleman, Dempsey and Tui. Their backplay has also improved and seems more fluid under the tutelage of Byrne.

        The main issue with Australia is that they still rely heavily on a couple of players. Had Folau not played on Saturday, I don’t think the Wallabies would have won. Same goes for Genia and Beale. If these guys can remain fit and in form come 2019, they will be in with a good chance of winning the Cup. Lose a couple of these names, and they won’t feature.

        As for the Abs, I am sort of happy with the result. It’s been a really tough year in terms of injuries and the young players will learn from this. The loss was what we needed and it exposed a few players and their frailties. I think this time next year, Lima Sopoaga will either not be an AB or will be at best the third choice 10 after Beauden and Mounga. With the addition of exciting youngsters such as Jack Goodhue, Moli, Richie Mounga, Asofa Amua, Jordie Barret and the returning six players who missed the Brisbane Test, I think 2018 will see a much more consistent year for the ABs. Two years out from he World Cup, I’m pretty comfortable with where we are placed.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:15pm
          Gray-Hand said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

          They managed to win without Pocock. That doesn’t happen often against good teams.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:16pm
          Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

          Beale contributed negatively to the team’s performance on Saturday and we still won. Folau was good but I don’t think he was decisive. Hodge and Genia were absolutely essential.

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2017 @ 9:28pm
            cs said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

            Disagree about KB. I also know from comments that few will agree with me. Yet for mine, KB had his best 40 mins since he’s come back, from 10 mins before half-time till he left the field 10 mins before the bell.

            To date, and at the start on Saturday night, Kurtley’s looked a bit jittery to me, a bit too anxious to fit in (albeit, still capable of pulling off stuff). Something happened toward the end of the first half, maybe he surprised himself when he got that half break, but his self-consciousness seemed to fall away. This showed directly when Kurtley was caught with a lot to say in a few of the huddles. But most importantly, it showed in his beautiful game, working the mid-field, fully integrated, not doing the spectacular, just doing the required job immaculately. Reminded me of the Tahs back in 2014.

            Naive KB critics don’t see him unless he does the extraordinary (which of course he can) and exaggerate his errors (and he usually has a couple, usually early, as he gets set). Long-time KB fans like to see him do the ordinary perfectly, and watch the players outside him go … as indeed they did so well when he settled into his work on Saturday.

            More generally, I think there’s enough out there to believe that the Wallabies are on a good trajectory. Not enough to rule out slipping back, but the rising narrative is pretty coherent, and it begins with the woeful performance in the Super comp and looks to have been getting stronger and better ever since the first Bledders.

            Bring on the tour! Bring on the Poms!

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 9:37pm
              jeznez said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:37pm | ! Report

              think that is a really good comment CS, Beale is at his best as a creator and then taking the gaps if they appear. Knocked on one or two high balls early (which has been an issue of his in the past) but found his groove just before halftime.

              Looked like he took a knock when chasing back on the ball that was kicked into touch and then traveled into the in goal. He dotted down to make sure then got hit by the AB that was also chasing. His replacement came soon after and he was decidedly shaky when he left the pitch.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:59pm
              Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

              I’m not a ‘Naive KB critic’, I think KB is class and was clamouring for him to replace Izzy as fullback in the RWC as I thought he was our best back and Izzy was injured.

              He dropped too many high balls, turned the ball over too may times and ran too laterally for me.

              I thought his first 3-4 matches in the RC were sublime, but he has looked a little tired to me these last few. I still think he’s class though.

              I agree things seems to be improving, and I actually think Beale’s influence in attack is a big part of that.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:32pm
          Jeffrey said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report


          Interesting call on Pocock. As someone who hasn’t rated Hooper that highly in the past, I have to say that he was outstanding on Saturday. If McMahon was not going overseas, would Pocock make the starting 15? I don’t see where he would fit in.

          Btw, I’m not questioning the Wallaby depth up front, I think it’s the strongest it’s been since I started watching rugby. I’m referring to key backs who are all world class but with not many quality back ups in their respective positions.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:59pm
            Gray-Hand said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

            Pocock is an automatic selection whenever fit. Look at the team’s record without him in the side. One good game as a fetcher by Hooper doesn’t change that Pocock has been the best player for the Wallabies over at least the last 6 years (baring the time he wasn’t available for selection).

            I agree that Hooper had a great game on Saturday. If he played in that style every week, I doubt he would catch anywhere near the flak that he otherwise gets.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:11am
      Jimbo81 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      We still have pocock and DHP to come back…

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:47am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Well – Pocock anyway. Hodge is playing better than DHP will ever be.

        I’d also say next year Rodda and Tui will be better, Dempsey and Koroibete too. We can hopefully find a better reserve LHP, and Uelese and Latu will be better 16s than Moore.

        • Roar Guru

          October 23rd 2017 @ 9:24am
          PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          Slipper is back playing NRC and is in line for the Barbarians game.

          Slipper, Pocock, Naisarani, Naivalu to all improve the team.

          Spiro is wrong that with Koroibete Wallabies finally have 2 finishers, actually that occurred when Naivalu made the team last year. That means there are 3 genuine finishers available. Add in Tom Banks and that is 4 genuine finishers with 2 of them hybrid wing / fb’s

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm
            Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            Slipper will be a great addition next year. Experience. Speed. And 10 times better than Robertson.

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 12:28pm
              PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              he may still make the spring tour

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:41pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

                That would be good.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm
              Schuey said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

              Robertson is awful right now. Id love to see his collapsed scrum stats this year.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am
          Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          James, we also have Isi Naisarani, who from what I’ve seen will knock Dempsey to the bench pretty comfortably. He is taller than Dempsey, more powerful and better at clearing rucks. If we are going to run the Pooper he is exactly the sort of player we will need to improve the balance of the back-row.

          Young Brumbies Tom Cusack and Rob Valetini look really good also.

          Powell will develop more, as will Gordon and Paia’aua, and hopefully Louwrens stays injury free.

          Tupou probably won’t be there yet, but in a year or two…

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:00pm
            jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            Fionn – Dempsey with the Pooper does worry me. The 3rd cog would preferably be bigger and more physical.

            Assuming Naisarani lives up to the hype, I’d happily take him with Dempsey on the bench – not that Cheika will do that. They may at least start off the other way around (Dempsey starting and Isi on the bench).

            I might be one of the few – but I would pick both Hooper and Pocock every time. They are both among the best players in the world, and also complimentary players.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:05pm
              Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              If we are going to run the Pooper then someone like Naisarani is the best way to compliment them. A big, powerful body capable of getting over the gain-line in the tight, very capable of clearing rucks and also very good line out target. It doesn’t work with someone like Dean Mumm because we are too soft and weak, and with Fardy it still isn’t perfect as we lacked the ball-running in tight (even though Fardy should have been 6 for all of the last two years).

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 12:19pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                What’s Naisarani going to do to compliment them Fionn?

                Tell David he’s so big and muscular and tell Hooper he has amazing hair?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:25pm
                Gavin said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                Is Naisarani eligible for the Wallabies or are we getting a head of ourselves again?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:32pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                He’s eligible by next year I believe. I don’t know for a fact that he wants to play for the Wallabies and not Fiji, but I imagine he would.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:53pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                Hahaha, something like that, TWAS. Something like that. Maybe compliment them on having such fantastic nicknames: What’s Isi compared to ‘Hoops’ and ‘Poey’?

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 5:47pm
              Timbo (L) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

              Isi plays 6 or 8, wherever his team needs him most.
              Spent 10 minutes at lock when Angus Gardner sent Matt Philip to the Naughty chair on the weekend.
              The Scrum stayed steady with only 7 packing down.

              He has lived up to the hype and with the exception of Mafi has no competition. Jumps, Pushes, Runs, Smashes, tackles, goes 80 minutes.

              The only reason Isi isn’t playing for the wallabies right now is the entry stamp on his passport.

              The only problem with his game is his eligibility for Wallabies selection, and that will be solved very soon. Fionn’s boys in Canberra, with Poey back and some new talent making it’s way through the ranks are going to have some serious firepower up front. It would be nice if they could squeeze Ritchie Arnold in there too, assuming the 2 Bro’s get along with each other.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:38pm
            Benny said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

            It’s funny seeing all these hopeful aussies, after an disastrous super rugby and a poor win loss rate. Now they’re on the rise? All blacks in decline? Wake up while you can.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:02pm
        Cassandra said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

        Is DHP going on the end of year tour?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:38pm
          Noodles said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

          Sadly not.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:25am
      Dan in Devon said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Was a great match to watch marred only by deliberate off the ball/tuck tackling and obstruction. Can a player sent off for deliberately tackling a player who is not involved in the ruck? Well done to Wayne Barnes for picking this up as I have been decrying this All Black tactic for a while now!

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:31am
        Jigbon said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

        Dan that’s a shocker of theirs and happened a lot in the game didn’t it. They were certainly playing man not ball a heck of a lot.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:01am
          Concussed said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

          You could even suggest that this tactic went unpunished and led to the first try for nz. The clean out to the ability away from players to slide out causing the defensive adjustment which created an overlap and ensuing try. Now the try may have been scored either way but it was definitely made easier by taking out players near the ruck.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:48am
            jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

            Yeah I saw that too. It was marginal.

            NZ have for many years been very good at the subtle obstruction. McCaw was the master. it is especially a worry with kick returns. If they suddenly run through a gape, you know it was created by a gridiron move.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:18am
              rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

              James on the kick return thing I believe the Wallabies have any teams measure on this. I have been watching them particularly for this as I’ve noticed Izzy aiming at his retreating players to create gaps. It’s been pretty blatant recently.

              Agree that the ABs were bad in the off the ball stuff on Saturday though. I was very disappointed in how they played on a number of levels.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:24am
                jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

                Good to see we’ve caught up!

                Yeah I also noticed a rare lack of composure, and from some of their top players. The Aussies need to be buoyed by this and take it to them more often. You could also see 10-15 mins into the 2nd half the ABs lifted their intensity. Australia were taken aback for about 30 seconds, then matched it. I think the players really think they are on a par now, and can win.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am
                rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

                More than caught up in this facet and pretty handy elsewhere. There has been some lazy commentary that one match is refective of trends. The roar is not a place where you will convince people otherwise. What we do know is that discipline was an issue on Saturday.

                A lot of credit needs to go to the Aus coaching staff. They have brought together a squad fron 5 losing SR teams and have got them moving in the right direction. Certainly developing belief. All you can hope for is to keep improving.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am
              Harry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

              All teams do it but, as with many, many other facets of the game, the All Blacks are the best at it. If you watch a bit of the kiwi domestic comp you would observe it is rampant, and seldom if ever penalised in those games and I’ve never seen a kiwi SR ref ping a kiwi team for it. Certainly I thought the first kiwi try their was some blatant taking out beyond the ball in the breakdown preceding Smith’s fine pass to the unmarked winger.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:33pm
                Sgt Pepperoni said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                Totally agree Harry

                The all blacks are the best in the business at all facets including ‘game sense’. From obstruction to holding players back at the ruck to dealing with the ref. All teams do it. Some do it better.

                Rather than whining I admire them for it. It’s to the referee or the opposition to deal with it

            • Roar Guru

              October 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am
              PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

              The AB’s every game take players out near the ruck, and do a lot of off the ball niggle, hold players back, down, obstruct etc.

              It is the way they play, another 1% for them

              The only difference in this game was a ref who wouldn’t have it and penalised them for it.

              Read captained poorly in not making them adjust to the ref.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:02am
                Dave_S said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                Yes on the last point, I was surprised Read didn’t take Coles in hand. Barnes was clearly unimpressed, twice telling Reid to pull Coles into line. And Coles was clearly not getting the effect he wanted, seemingly the opposite in fact.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:04am
                zhenry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

                The WBs don’t take out players? And don’t push the off-side rule (one of Barnes failures in the game).
                Rarely agree with you but your right about Reid, needs to be far more proactive during game.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 11:24am
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                No the wallabies rarely take out players or clear in front of the ruck, notice Barnes didn’t penalise them for it and he was looking for it.

                They did get penalised for offside as did NZ.

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2017 @ 6:05pm
            Timbo (L) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

            You saw that too eh?

            Watch Crotty’s fine display of sportsmanship in this passage of play, coming through the gate on Australia’s side of the ruck to get in TK’s way.


    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:30am
      Jigbon said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Spiro thankfully a win to make us proud and at the end of the game there was a lot of cheering and yelling amongst my oz mates around the Tele. And the bird to the nuns.
      One of the most satisfying things is the rise of these young guys and new guys to come out of nowhere and play great roles. Dempsey, tui , koroibete, rodda etc and watching the NRC I see there is plenty more where they came from. The Nrc could be pulvers greatest legacy . There is some great players there. Koroibete is a lock on as is Dempsey and Tui i is so mobile and dynamic for a big guy it’s just great to see.
      Plus finally we are playing in the nuns face. That’s what’s needed – playing with speed and in your face and we don’t seem to be taking any Crap from them either any more.
      We all noticed the off the man grub play by the nuns as they became more and more frustrated that we had their measure. Dane Coles and Aaron smith really showed their true colours. Cheap. And immature performances by them.
      Proud at how we went and congratulations to both the team and the coaching staff after being a nay sayer for most of the year about ooor coaching, I have thankfully had to eat my words. I always knew we had the players. Now with the coordinated coaching front being initiated I think we can only become better and better over the next five years. Yippee

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:02am
        bigbaz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Hopefully a line in the sand game, finally a ref and a team who refused to be bullied by an increasingly cynical ABs side.

        • Roar Guru

          October 23rd 2017 @ 9:34am
          PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

          thats the issue though most refs let them get away with it, they will continue to obstruct and all the illegal play off the the ball etc in future games.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:01pm
            Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            Geez this constant moaning of poor us, come and protect us poor little ones from the big bad wolf.

            Instead of this perpetual crying why dont you Wallabies, for not either doing the same things, or for not being smart, or good enough to do so, or two, yourselves as limp fans for not insisting they do the same.

            But no, cry, cry cry, poor us. Absolute loser!s mentality. Stop crying and do something about it, rather than pretending to be the oh so righteous ones that never do any wrong versus the big bad wolf.

            You come across as pedantic whiners. On and on, every single test.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:53pm
              bigbaz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              So the suggetion is that we play illegally, you are a peice of work.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:42pm
                bluffboy said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                Have to agree with TMan.
                Your kidding yourselves that if you think rugby like any sport really that line isn’t stretched and pushed to the limit and beyond if you can get away with it. There is that old saying “its only cheating when you get caught”. That wasn’t invented by the All Blacks. The only problem for me is they didn’t adjust when they were getting pinged. Take the blinkers off for the next game the Wallies play and you might find they are close to a level where they also are trying to change the shape of that LINE.
                Just be happy with the win…….

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:47pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Depends what you call illegal. That penalised by an official or the mantra of Peterk?

                Its only illegal if its penalised. That is the standard. Opinion is not illegal.

                Pretty easy really.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                The ref is the sole judge of fact and law

                no whistle, nothing illegal

                it amazes me that so many so called rugby fans still need help with this concept

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:02pm
                bigbaz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                I gather you approved of Cole and Cane on the weekend, doesn,t surprise me, your previous post sums you up to me. Lose the chip sunshine , revel in your wins and get used to the losses cause there are more on the way.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:11pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                What I approve of doesn’t matter unless I’m the ref

                It’s a contact sport pal, I’m sure the boys can look after themselves

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:35pm
                bigbaz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

                I was replying to tman piru, incidentlly have either heard of citing after a game, real rugby people have. maybe the pair of you should talk to a few and learn something

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:36pm
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

                piru – it is that attitude that encourages so much dirty play behind the ref’s back knowing he can’t see it so that makes it ok

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:46pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Those are the laws of the game gentlemen

                I didn’t write them

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 5:56pm
                Timbo (L) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

                I have run this argument before, and I will run it again,

                How do you feel about:

                Sexual Assault.?

                Where did you draw the line and why?

                How about moving pieces on the chess board when your kids aren’t looking?

                If you are not OK with any of them, why would it be ever OK to intentionally do it playing Rugby?

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:06pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

                Timbo you are not seriously equating pushing the offside line with sexual assault?

                That’s a ridiculous argument, you are better than that

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:10pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

                Rugby is a game, originally intended to be refereed by the players themselves.

                The laws are vague, and what one referee considers through the gate, in front of the line, forward out of the hand or whatever else, another may not.

                It behooves all players to find the line the referee in a given game considers legal and to play at that line.

                If you want to make your own determination on what should be legal, that’s fine, but it’s not your job to do so, it’s the referee’s, don’t complain if his line is more forgiving than yours.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:15pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                Sorry to keep going on this, but it seems a very one sided way to complain about the All Blacks and I’m pretty sick of it

                Do you stop play and hand the ball to the ref every time you judge a team mate has passed the ball forward?

                What about if you accidentally jump offside, do you insist the ref blow the whistle and award a penalty against you?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:31pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                Thats right Piru, theyre poorly making excuses for their own sides inability to play close to the line.

                Same happened when McCaw was around, moan, moan, moan when the obvious response was to…do the same.

                But they couldnt, so they cry. Simple as that.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:38pm
                Sage said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:43pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

                George Smith and Phil Waugh used to play the line as much as McCaw did, never heard a word against them.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 7:17pm
                Timbo (L) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

                I am not comparing the two, I am asking you to put the Ritchie Macaw inspired “Kiwi Way” on a scale.

                I am merely taking a measure of your moral compass.

                I am pretty certain that most of us here think that shoplifting is bad.
                Many think Speeding is OK.

                For me, Doing shifty stuff behind the referee’s back has an equivalency to cheating your kids at a board game, Something I, and most others would never do.

                So how about you compile of laws that you are happy to infringe on if you can get away with it?
                Ruck Entry?
                Hands in the ruck?
                Off Feet?
                Obstructing a player off the ball.
                Offside Line?
                Lineout Offenses?
                Pulling down/boring in in a scrum or maul.
                High Tackles?
                Squeezing Plums?
                Eye gouging?
                Punching an opposition player in the face?
                Hair Pulling?
                Shoulder charging a players’ exposed ribs in a ruck (Yes Brodie, this one is just for you!).

                Knowing that you are a pretty reasonable person, I will pre-empt your response that I don’t expect you to approve any of the infringements that harm the opposition.

                But here is something to think about, WP Nell broke Scott Sio’s arm at the world cup doing his usual “Scrum Mechanics” tricks. A number of the rules are there for player safety, others for crowd enjoyment.

                There is clause in the rules forbidding actively infringing.
                There is not a single statement, nor a hint that anything is legal as long as you don’t get caught.
                In fact, the siting tribunal implies the opposite, but tends to focus on cases of dangerous offenses.
                You can get strung up based on video evidence even if you got away with it during the game.

                Sorry for rabbiting on about this but it is an emotive issue for me, it is a measure of who we are as a society.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 24th 2017 @ 7:44am
                Paulo said | October 24th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

                Dont have an issue with yourain point that the rules are the rules. However, you cant honestly say that the wallibies do not push the envelope too. I do not condone illegal play, but this histrionic campaign to suggest there is a global conspiracy to let the ABs infringe at will and for refs to let it go is ridiculous and tiring. Insulting both the ABs and every ref out there who takes pride in trying to officiate to their nest ability.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 12:12am
                FunBus said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:12am | ! Report

                ‘The ref is the sole judge of fact and law

                no whistle, nothing illegal

                it amazes me that so many so called rugby fans still need help with this concept’

                I agree with you, Piru. I also agree with the much used ‘it’s not tiddlywinks’ (although the context in which it was first used was stomach-churning). I suppose it would all be a little more persuasive if Cooper wasn’t continually booed five years after a minor spat with Sir Ritchie that couldn’t possibly have caused any injury; we hadn’t just witnessed some truly epic national bleating about French refs robbing the ABs; Itoje, indeed the whole Lions team, being constantly off-side; the opposition lineout ‘shouting’; cheap shots’ on AB players which were nothing of the sort; etc etc.
                And all that’s before we get into the ten years and counting, world record, never to be rivalled hissy fit regarding the 2007 QF.

                All players try and get away with whatever they can in terms of technical infringements. It’s perfectly legitimate to question why the refs haven’t dealt with certain aspects better, providing it’s not an out of perspective bleat blaming these factors exclusively for why your team lost.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 8:31am
                rebel said | October 24th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report

                Nothing like a bit of hyperbole in the morning.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 24th 2017 @ 12:05pm
                piru said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

                It’s perfectly legitimate to question why the refs haven’t dealt with certain aspects better,

                That I do agree with, but I’m sick (more than sick) of this suggestion that the All Blacks are somehow a dirty team because they push the line. All players worth their salt do it.

                As an example – Latu – the Waratah hooker, was getting plaudits from all and sundry for his work at the breakdown. To my eye, he never supports his own weight, but uses his low centre of gravity to lean his stomach on the pile and lean over. I don’t think I’ve seen him be called for this once, because the refs obviously see it differently – here’s the rub – it’s not my call, it’s theirs.

                Should Latu change the way he plays because certain people watching from home think it’s cheating? Of course he shouldn’t!

              • Roar Rookie

                October 24th 2017 @ 12:08pm
                piru said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report


                So how about you compile of laws that you are happy to infringe on if you can get away with it?

                Unless the ref blows it up there has been no infringement, it’s not about what I or anyone else thinks is legal or illegal.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 12:20pm
                taylorman said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

                Yes exactly Funbus and Piru, its those who adopt a general stance of chea?t’ing as a matter of fact on a consistent basis that I have issue with, one in particular.

                Came from the same motivation of being repetitive with another point with hanigan being Mumm 2.0 until that was finally drilled home that that sort of talk was innappropriate. Only now does he no longer use it.

                Takes a while to see the light it seems…

              • Roar Guru

                October 24th 2017 @ 1:51pm
                Timbo (L) said | October 24th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

                Piru I am not sure that’s true,

                Pocock got 4 weeks for a neck roll that the ref didn’t see.

                Did he infringe?

                I say yes, but I can foresee a semantics debate emerging.
                Language aside, he did something on the field that was against the rules, unseen by the ref, that a punishment was handed out for.

                As to your “gate” argument, Ritche was the master of coming through the side and quickly re-positioning his body in a way that made it look like he came in from the back. This is the fine art of deception.
                The famous footage where he got cleaned up by a Bok, he was sitting on his backside with both hands in the ruck, slowing the ball down, the ref was unlighted.
                There is no grey area, he was ch3@ting to gain advantage, and in my opinion, deserved a forearm to the head for his troubles. But that was seen by the ref, making it an infringement

                The logic is flawed, The morals are Bankrupt.

              • Roar Guru

                October 24th 2017 @ 2:03pm
                Timbo (L) said | October 24th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report


                I don’t want to see Ch3@ting in any game, by any side. And no side is squeaky clean. Neither G.Smith nor Fardy wear Halo’s.

                But watch a Saders, Chiefs or Canes game and the incidences seem to be a lot more frequent. The Highlanders and Blues seem a bit more civilized.
                Perth spirit ran up a bunch of penalties for these infringements last weekend, so I suspect that they may have pushed the boundaries a bit too hard and got caught.
                The Kiwis got Caught doing it in Chicago, by an astute ref, and they lost the game because of it.
                They cleaned up their game for the second half and were fantastic, but it was too late by then, the damage had been done.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 24th 2017 @ 2:06pm
                piru said | October 24th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                I wondered how long before you decided to drag Richie into this.

                If the referee blows his whistle, it’s an infringement, if not, play on.

                That’s the end of the discussion and I don’t know how many other ways to say it.

                There is no grey area, he was ch3@ting to gain advantage

                You’re right, there is no grey area, if the whistle didn’t go, he didn’t infringe, black and white.

                Now foul play is the domain of more than just the ref these days, the TMO and Assistant Refs are asked to weigh in as well – all to the good I believe.

                Put it this way – Pocock neck rolled an opponent and it was later seen as illegal.

                Should he have walked himself over to the bin and sat out ten minutes of his own volition? I mean the ref didn’t see it, but to avoid cheating surely he should have sanctioned himself.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 24th 2017 @ 2:08pm
                piru said | October 24th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

                Perth spirit ran up a bunch of penalties for these infringements last weekend, so I suspect that they may have pushed the boundaries a bit too hard and got caught.

                Astute players (like Richie) calibrate the ref early to see what will be allowed, and then play to that.

                Less astute players get pinged repeatedly.

              • Roar Guru

                October 25th 2017 @ 7:30pm
                Timbo (L) said | October 25th 2017 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

                The difference is that Pocock didn’t go into the clean out with the sole intent to attack the opposition players head, it was just poor timing.

                Big difference when you go out of your way to do it.

                We will have to agree to disagree on this one.

                I don’t think you actually respond to the question:

                Do you cheat at cards or board games?
                After all it is your kids/mates fault for not catching you doing it.

            • Roar Rookie

              October 23rd 2017 @ 3:17pm
              Sage said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

              Are you moaning Tman?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:30pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

                No, I just know how to enjoy my rugby without the need to call the opposition che!atz every single week for years.? Suppose you cant help the deep rooted envy of some. Sad.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 5:48pm
                Sage said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                Don’t be sad, it’s only one game.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:16pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

                Oh I see, youre a deep thinking herb.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:40pm
                Sage said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

                I have to be careful with random compliments. You may not actually meant that. It has caused me trouble before and I promised my Nigerian princess I would ignore questionable affection

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:42pm
              cinque said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              This time it’s okay. It would be a whinge if we’d lost.
              Cleaning out detached defenders is not a good look. Nor is the Lions defensive lineout shouting as loud as they can. Nor is Foley – sitting in the tram lines – gesticulating wildly when Coles took a bit too long to make his throw. Not his party. Too many peripherals, not enough rugby.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:50am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        You could really see some of the ABs losing their cool in the 2nd half. Don’t tell me it was a meaningless dead rubber.

        I called out from my lounge for the boys to stay in their face, niggle a bit if necessary, but stay composed. I hope they learned a big lesson from that, esp the younger guys.

        Who did the cheap off the ball clearout that was penalised?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:20am
          rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          Sam Cane. Totally unnecessary as they already had the ball back.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:25am
            jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

            Yeah I thought it was Cane. As I said above – some lost composure from Coles, Cane and Smith, 3 of their top players. Shows anyone is human.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:09am
              rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

              There certainly seemed to be more niggle than usual. Smith can be excused on that list as niggle and yapping is a core role of a halfback. Coles is a bit off this year from his injury. Looks a bit frustrated.
              Cane doesn’t come across as a niggly player to me, but certainly he lost his accuracy on Sat.
              The excessive niggle along with the lack of direction was part of why I didn’t feel the ABs deserved to win. It would have been an injustice if they pulled another one out at the death.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:57am
              Kieron said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

              A dead rubber jameswarm. Had the Bledisloe been on the line on Saturday… you could have bet on Beauden playing.. BB did not fail a concussion pre-match test.. the coaches devided not to risk him on a dead rubber

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:02pm
                jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                Dead rubber shmed rubber. A win’s a win.

                We nearly won in Dunedin too – a live match in a notoriously difficult part of the world for opposing teams to win.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:12pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                But half you guys reckon Lima should be playing at 10. I agree. While not showing it on the weekend, he’s possibly a better 10 than BB. Lima’s game against the Abs two years back was excellent. He, unlike BB, can also play set piece play — more deceptive passing game.

                Heck, BB got pulled from Bled 3 last year when AU had Abs measure up to Speight’s purported non-try.

                AU applied more pressure to Lima this year than BB in Bled 3 last year. Logic would suggest that BB would have been pulled again.

                The only player you missed on the weekend was Retalick and perhaps one of your props because Crockett is pretty ordinary.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:24pm
                Jeffrey said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report


                People who rate Lima really have not been watching a lot of rugby this year. The guy had a horrendous year for the Highlanders and I was surprised when I heard Foster(whom I have never rated as a coach btw) talk him up a few weeks ago in one of the PCs. He is not and will never be an International class 10. Cruden is a massive loss, at least in the short term.

                Thankfully there are a couple of great prospects coming through in NZ. Mounga is almost ready imo and may even be ready, but we won’t know this as they keep on selecting Lima. The other is Stephen Perofeta whom I believe will be NZ’s long term starting 10. This kid is class and is starting to show his ability at ITM Cup level. Mitchell Hiunt is also another young player whom I rate so the future is looking good.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:29pm
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                I said back in June that I think that Mounga will end up displacing Barrett at 10 by the RWC, and Barrett would move to fullback and Ben Smith on the wing, or Barrett onto the bench.

                I could be wrong there, but even if I am I suspect Mounga will wear the 22 jersey come next year even if Barrett is still wearing number 10.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:51pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                Appreciate that Jeff.

                I was going to note that Cruden was probably the biggest loss to the Abs this RWC cycle.

                Cruden is far more Carter-like than BB. BB has a little too much Carlos. And this WCs don’t end well for the ABs.

                BB at FB, sure. But not 10.

                Lima did have that excellent game against the Boks 2 years back and had he started against teh Argies, he could have got some runs under his belt before this past weekends game.

                I’ll need to watch a little more of the Canterbury 10. Will be keeping an eye out. What I have seen, I’d put him more in the Carter style, right?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:04pm
                cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

                Sopoaga did not play a lot due to injury ; seems he has slowed down a bit.

                Mounga is no Carter – like. he is more of a Cruden. the good thing atm is he is running again. he stopped the running part after the Lions game.

                the closest to Carter in Miter 10 is Jackson garden Bachop – hopefully he gets a bit more to run around in super rugger.

                Cruden and colin Slade were very good 10s – but pity they had glass bodies.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 23rd 2017 @ 6:56pm
          piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

          Dead rubber maybe, meaningless? Never

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:36am
        Harry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        When I saw Wayne Barnes was the ref I knew we had a better chance. I would love to know what the record of NZ is when Barnes refs them, even subtracting the (rightly) infamous RWC 07 QF. Conversely, when their pet Nigel Owens has the whistle have they ever lost? Can someone compare the record of Barnes reffed All Black performances v Nigel Owens reffed All Black games?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:11am
          rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          Apart from it being lazy to blame wins and losses on refs, you should be more than capable of using google.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:18pm
            Harry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

            I am not blaming wins or losses on referees. It is a fact that when Barnes refs, the ABs have a lower win rate than their usual stratospheric high. And I can’t recall them ever losing a game that Nigel Owens has refereed.
            Its possible this is a coincidence.
            But a rational person, like zhenry below who advances reasons why, would at least investigate. I’m sure the AB game review committee does.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:32pm
              rebel said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

              zhenry indicates that the way Barnes refs allows the Wallabies and other sides to get away with things. I’m sure that other are more leaning towards him not letting the ABs get away with things. I tend to think that like all refs they tend to ref what is in front of them and don’t have a bearing on the result.
              But like you said, a rational person would investigate, so….

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:12pm
                cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

                DUDE : all refs have their style of reffing.

                this means they will let go certain things and ref certain things.

                Owens is a scrum junkie – he loves to talk it up and then do that one knee on the ground posturing and award a penalty.

                Poite has no clue about the breakdown – when he refs it s a free for all. players go flying all over like superman and he doesnot penalize anyone.

                Barnes hates chat at him. he is one guy who penalizes players for backchat often.

                Joubert when he was around was a stickler for the Laws. he will give penalties on technicalities – no matter ow dumb they look.

                on Champions league commentary it was said that the refs have been instructed to ignore crooked lineouts – unless the defending team competes.

                sometimes there are things we as TV watchers miss or wonder wtf , simply becoz we dont know the whole story.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 8:37am
                rebel said | October 24th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

                Thats great, but if you have to rely on refs then you are not good enough as they only have impact on the fringes. They are all still playing rugby where the fundamentals are the same. No teams continually wins or loses because of a ref, it is just the lazy that blame them.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:28am
          zhenry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

          ABs have lost more games, with Barnes as ref. I think that’s from planet rugby. Barnes does not ref the breakdown (except coming in from side) forward passes or the off-side rule, which was critical on Saturday.
          I thought the go forward, evasions of tackles and team work (like an AB side, if I may say so) was encouraging for WBs, but the score was close and appalling options, mistakes and brainless penalties killed the ABs.
          There was a change over to new Defence coach, this series, and Wayne Smith has been ‘the ABs’ in so many respects.
          AB Injuries will have to be managed better, ABs at Super level will need to be rested, esp tight 5.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 5:32pm
            cuw said | October 23rd 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

            i think all European refs give lot more time for defenders to have the hands on the ball at breakdowns , compared to the SH ones. this is visible even in Aviva or Champions league.

            it was said on commentary yesterday ( Wasps v Harlequins ) that there seems to be an email from powers that be to crack down on tackles off the ball at rucks. i think around 4 penalties went against NZ on this aspect.

            however it is not easy to compare as the Europeans are playing under new Laws. so there are lot of penalties for kicking the ball at rucks or tackler not getting onside after the tackle, before going for ball.

            i think the notion Barnes does not know what a forward pass is kind of old. He does ref it well now , at least as far as i have seen. i cant recall any forward passes he missed in the test.

            one very noticeable pet peev of Barnes is backchat. he is one ref who penalizes players for talking back after a decision. i cannot think of any other ref who does it so often. 😛

        • October 24th 2017 @ 12:16am
          wardad1 said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:16am | ! Report

          I think that the wallabies have only lost 2 from 12 under barnes ,so who has a pet ref ?

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 6:29pm
        Benny said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

        You realise you didn’t win anything?

        • Roar Guru

          October 23rd 2017 @ 7:27pm
          Timbo (L) said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

          Bragging Rights,
          The game,
          A bump in world ranking score,
          Self Respect.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:46pm
            Benny said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:46pm | ! Report

            Bragging rights?
            One game, wow talk about setting the bar low. Try winning the bledisloe before parading in the streets. Self respect is what they need to discover. Reminds me of Sydney 2015 wallabies beat the abs. It was the turning of the tide, yeah what happened since?

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:31am
      Terry Tavita said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      I think the answers are deeper than that..the sudden rise of the wallabies coincides with an improving nrc, good backrowers coming through and more pacific islanders in the team..the key reasons why the ABs are so is not too shabby either..

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:52am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        The back row that did well was all caucasian though, and there was a stat that NZ has 12 caucasians in their 23 to 10 for Australia.

        Our caucasian front rowers are lettting us down though…

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:24am
          Terry Tavita said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          I know..dempsey and coleman are very good back rowers..looking forward to seeing mccalman back in the yellow for the EOTYT..he’s one of my fav players..but at the same time, you can’t deny that the infusion of PI players at club, nrc and test team level has not been great for the wallabies..

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:04pm
            jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            No not denying that at all. And some terrific leaders among them – Kepu they said is the PIs’ leader in the Wallabies team, with Taf next. Great guys and good role models for all players.

            Ala’alatoa and Sio are good young men too.

            Some things are starting to go right – I hope the trend continues.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:44pm
              MitchO said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

              Coleman may be Tasmanian but his lineage is half Tongan.

              A rugby team requires all parts to work at least well enough. The team on the weekend had mostly working parts. Dempsey gave us more lineout and everything else than we got from Hanigan. Dempsey is a guy who can handle 6.

              McMahon can also handle 6 and makes a good pretense of being an 8.

              Our backrow is undersized as a unit but at least those three in isolation are all up to the challenge.

              The backline didn’t work without Genia in form and didn’t work without KB to spark it. Take out KB and we are one dimensional. Take out Genia and we are missing a top quality half back – not that he can’t be replaced but Phipps, Louwrens, Gordon etc are not (or not yet) of Genia’s standard.

              If we lose KB then Hunt can provide some cover and half a spark as Hunt or even a whole spark with a reshuffle if Hunt allows Kerevi to play 13. I do like the idea of leaving TK at 13 though because he does do his job. Which means we are grinding a bit with Foley and Hunt at 12 and 13.

              In short we do need another play maker not just a great running type like Kerevi.

              Hodge has to stay in the starting 15. Things happen around Hodge and points get scored. He’s got a gift.

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