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 @ 7:44am
      Sportstragic said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Good effort by the wallabies and congratulations to them but no the all blacks are not on the decline.
      Until the wallabies get a decent fly half and bigger back 3 I don’t think they will challenge the all blacks consistently. But great effort!

    • Roar Guru

      October 23rd 2017 @ 7:47am
      Machpants said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      It was a great victory by oz against an’off’ ABs side. But oz need to do that not just when desperate vs an un desperate team, to convince me they’ve turned the corner. These third, dead rubber, Bledisloe matches often see the ABs lose, draw and/or play badly. Oz needs to play like that on their tour, and not just against England, who they have a point to prove against.

      A nz press article pointed out that Cheika is a great winner, he says all the right things, but a poor loser, when he whines like a harrier engine! It was a good point I thought.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 7:53am
        Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        I disagree. I think the pressure is off the team and they can experiment a little bit more on the end of year tour, especially now that Folau is out.

        I think they should definitely be targeting to beat Wales and Scotland, but it isn’t the end of the world if we lose them now. In regards to England, it would be fantastic to get a win, but I’m not really expecting us to get particularly close.

        • Roar Guru

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

          That’s a different way of looking at it, I guess I’m coming from an ABs supporters perspective – the pressure is never off! Oz need to keep those performance coming to prove to me they’re really improving. Because most of their games in the RC have been at least one half very poor, and previously the inbound tours they were awful. So one great performance in a desperate place, to me, it’s not a turn around. Admittedly they’ve done two good games vs ABs, but they need to do the same thing vs other teams for me to see it as a systematic improvement rather than just superior motivation.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:08am
            Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

            I would have agreed if Folau was going. But between (1) the fact that Folau—who, despite what people say, is one of our best players after perhaps Genia—isn’t going, which indicates that it will be more about trialling youngsters and (2) the fact that we have beaten the All Blacks now, so we no longer need to win all of the remaining games to see it as a positive season.

            I don’t mean in any of this that I don’t care about winning. Of course that is still the aim, and I would prefer not to see Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Nick Phipps or Stephen Moore to wear the gold at all. And I would prefer to see Foley at least benched (but not going to happen).

            I actually think we should beat Scotland and Wales even without Folau, but with the Wobblies I can never say with any confidence that they’re going to win, so we will see.

            I think all of our matches since Bledisloe 1 have been good with the exception of the Perth test vs the Boks. Argentina always starts strongly, but we finished well both times and ran over them, the draw with South Africa in Bloemfontein was a great Test and there was no shame in the draw there, and the Bledisloe in Dunedin was another great Test. It still hurts having lost that, but the team did well. We’ve played well for most of 2 months now.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:35am
              Bring Back...? said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

              Gosh, can’t agree with these comments re EOYT results. If we lose 3, or even 2, that’s not something “we” should be comfortable with simply because Folau is not playing. Would you say the same thing if he was injured? It gives us a great chance to try other combinations in case he does get injured next year or during the RWC. Also forces them to shift their minds from a “go to” attacking option to try other things. However we still need to be desperate to win those games.

              When Cheika talks of the young guys getting experience, I assume he’s referring to AAA, Robertson, Coleman, Tui, Arnold, Dempsey, McMahon, Kerevi, Hodge, Hunt, Koroeibete. Not necessarily young in age, but young in experience at that level. Momentum is huge in rugby. We can’t be happy with a win against a depleted ABs and then relax a little for a European vacation. The season is not yet a success.

              As matchpants says – the pressure to win is always there for the All Blacks. It’s the right mentality.

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

                I didn’t say I was happy to lose 2-3.

                We don’t need to beat England to consider the season successful. 2/3 would be a pretty solid EOYT, and we could still consider the season a success if we win 2/3.

                Beating England in Twickenham at the end of a long season without our best attacking threat is just very unlikely. We shouldn’t be too upset if we lose that, especially if the team plays well in the loss.

                Before the All Blacks Test I said that it would be a successful season if we beat either England or the All Blacks + both of Scotland and Wales. I still hold to that. Even if we lose to Scotland or Wales it isn’t the end of the world (depending on the manner of the loss, of course, if we see appalling rugby like we did in June then I reserve the right to change my mind and rage).

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:46pm
                Good Game said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

                Wallabies totally need to beat England for this season to be considered a success.

                Firstly, taking scalp numbers 1 & 2 in a season shows more than good improvement. Good improvement, I believe, is a fair assessment of where the WBs are at currently. Beat England at Twickers and you can fairly say that it has been a great improvement and hence successful.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:40am
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

                If we cleansweep the EOYT then the Scotland loss in June will be forgiven and forgotten.

                Nothing can eviscerate the pain of the 0-3 series against England though.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:53am
                Bring Back...? said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

                Fionn, the 0/3 loss to England was not the end of the World either…or is that just the Irish in you coming out.

                Folau’s presence or lack of is what it is. We have to show we’re not a one trick pony. Overall, it’s a good thing he’s not going as it forces our hand. You and the other anti-Foley commentators will be able to judge Foley without sidekick Folau.

                We should most definitely be upset/disappointed if we lose any of these matches. Otherwise, take the jersey off and let someone else have a crack.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:06am
                Fionn said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

                Oh, I’ll be disappointed, of course, but I won’t be filled with the horror and pain that I was in June against Scotland, in Bledisloe 1, or against England last year.

                I don’t actually think Folau not being there is the end of the world. Makes it easier to get Hunt into the team, easier to get Beale out of inside centre to improve out defence and easier to get Tom Banks into the team, and I think Banks will be a future star if he stays injury free.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:58pm
              cinque said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

              Did Hodge just get Cooper on the plane? Some are already talking up Hodge as first choice kicker, seeing he has apparently cemented a spot at 13 +. Foley gets A for effort on Saturday but the rest was average, plus 3 hooked place kicks. Skating on thin ice.

              I actually prefer Cooper as a defender, though he is in the Beale mode, too much bravado. Problem with Foley is that he always goes low, so always needs backup. In the Ioane try, Foley stopped Williams – after a fashion – but the offload was trivial for SBW.
              A pity that Cooper is considered on the way out at 28. He is still fast enough.
              I guess Genia – Cooper – Hunt – Kerevi is maybe a bit too red for most .

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 4:12pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

                Actually the problem in that try was that Foley didn’t stop SBW. He shot out but SBW slipped through which turned a 4 on 4 into a 4 on 3.

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:12am
            Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

            There’s been systematic improvement since June. You need to watch more games with Australia in it.

            There’s actually been 2.5 out of 3 great Au efforts against the Abs. And the score blew out in the first half of Sydney in the last 20 of minutes.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:41am
        Mike Julz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        I agree with your last paragraph. Cheika humble in victory, but in defeat he brings out his bag of excuses and whine about how the ref got it wrong.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:54am
          jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          He must be part NZ. That’s the reputation they have.

          I got told when living o/s Aussies are normally gracious losers, but terrible winners…

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am
            Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

            I’m struggling to think of an AB coach who’s been anything close to Cheika in terms of post match whinging.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:27am
              jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

              Not coaches – fans.

              I lived in Europe for a year and was regularly told Aussies are gracious losers and terrible, cocky winners, and Kiwis the opposite.

              It was 1999 – so we got to see a bit of Aussies winning and NZ losing!

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 9:33am
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

                1999….I can remember the first Bledisloe test….and nothing after that.

                I assume they just cancelled all test rugby for the rest of the year.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                Jameswn, if you think NZ fans moan more about losing than oz fans then youre very, very much misguided.

                Take this one, take Chicago v Ireland. And theres one big difference with NZ losses. We are usual warm favourites so probably more likely have more justification.

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

                Not my thoughts Tman.

              • Roar Guru

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

                jameswm – Have to say in general the AB fans have been a lot better with the Irish and Wallaby losses, however back to true form with the Lions loss

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:18pm
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Well the only Lions loss had them playing with a man down for 50 minutes and even then depended on a lame technical penalty – I kind of suspect any nation’s fans would have a few qualifications when discussing a loss.

                Ditto the 3rd test ‘accidental offside’ debacle – I can just imagine how well that would have gone down if it the roles were reversed and a penalty against NZ was reversed in such a fashion….

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:54pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                Yes thats why I left it out. We did moan, for a reason. If a ref cant even make his own decisions at such a crucial point then whats he doing there.

                But thats a far cry from gee what could have happened if speights try had been given but for the forward pass in the six try to one slaughter…’anything could have happened’…its that sort of inflated rubbish that we get endlessly here.

                We’re saints in comparison when it comes to losing. And Pete your refereeing stance of oz and oz teams can do no wrong, NZ sides always get home advantages and cheat..every single bldy week needs mentioning.

                Youre like a broken record, sitting there like a pomp spieling out news reports as if theyre fact.

                Anyway, drone on, I wont wait for something remotely original, but Im sick of you call our sides cheats every single weekend.

                Dont see a lot of humilty with that either, another recurring drone on of yours.

              • Roar Guru

                October 23rd 2017 @ 3:39pm
                PeterK said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                more hot air from you taylorman

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 4:02pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                Yes Pete, cant even show enough humility to enjoy a win without throwing the che-a,t word in several times.

                Anyway, I see not even a win helps ease your pain. ?

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 6:26pm
                Sage said | October 23rd 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

                A self appointed saint, I like it. You only moan for a reason and are more justified in doing so. Understood. Perhaps you aren’t taking this as well as you might. It’s only one loss. It doesn’t mean all that much really.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:30pm
              Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

              Jerry — Whiners? Seriously. Ab coaches are not whiners? Selective memory.

              You lose in ’95 and all we hear until 2007 was SA poisoned the Abs.

              You lose in 2007 and Henry/Hansen write books about Wayne Barnes and the so-called forward pass.

              When Cheika starts writing books about refs, we can then put him in the lofty Henry/Hansen echelons.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:35pm
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                Two examples (btw Hansen didn’t write a book about 07) after two of the highest profile losses in RWC history vs Cheika moaning about every single loss and unflattering newspaper article….

                Nah, I stand by my comment.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 12:58pm
                Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

                You’re right about Hansen. He didn’t write a book, but supplied plenty of good quotes for Henry’s book. Glad you agree with the rest of what I said re 95 and 2007 screaming.

                And to that point, instead of writing a book, Hansen just screamed for his job and blamed Barnes when he had to re-interview at the end of 2007 and laid the case in every NZ newspaper before the interview to get the sympathy vote.

                It when I think about it more, you fellas screamed about the French in 99. We still hear about that.

                Ironically the only time you don’t scream in a WC is when AU beat you in 91 and 2003 — perhaps some tacit respect.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:04pm
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                So….. NZ have only complained about 3 losses ever and Cheika’s managed about 5 times that amount in a bit over 2 years.

                I think my original point stands….

              • Roar Rookie

                October 23rd 2017 @ 1:07pm
                piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

                You won –

                enjoy the victory, and stop trying to make it about that time the All Blacks fans you saw online were complaining,

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:24pm
                Jacko said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                Connor even Wayne Barnes says it was massively forward in 2007 so if the ref knows it and the rest of the world knows it then why are you struggling so much with accepting it was a forward pass?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 1:58pm
                Taylorman said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

                You have to go back that far Connor? Ten to 22 years ago?

                Doesnt that mean we havent featured in that respect for ten years or more? Isnt that a good thing?

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm
              Connor33 said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

              Jerry: you asked a really stupid question: “I’m struggling to think of an AB coach who’s been anything close to Cheika in terms of post match whinging.”

              And you got a pretty straight forward response: Henry and Hansen screamed like school children about Barnes’ mis-forward pass. Henry wrote a book about it. Both then bleated to NZ newspapers leading up to their re-interview at the end of 2007, begging for their jobs –trying to get sympathy before the Deans vote — a coach that should have coached NZ, and you still think Cheika whined about the Speight try last year. That was a disgrace that Speight decison in Bled 3 and three NZ commentators were whining right next to Cheika about it. Cheika stood in some good company if three respected Nzers were in fierce agreement with him, right.

              Incidentally, Hansen and Henry knew they needed to find a scapegoat given their shocking records with Wales. You’re never going see Cheika whining–aka begging for his job or blaming a referee to save his own. If he is perceived as whining, it’s because he’s bloody passionate about the team. Big difference between Cheika v Henry/Hansen. The former gets to a WC final in his first attemp; the latter scream like school children when they get knocked out of QF in their first.

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:16pm
                Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                Cheika has whinged after (and often before) every loss the Wallabies have had in the last few years. He’s somehow managed to whinge about a cartoon in a newspaper being Hansen’s fault and whinged about the AB’s having the temerity to find a bug in their hotel room.

                So again, I don’t think a couple of AB coaches complaining after two very high profile losses in RWC’s is comparable to the scale of Cheika’s whinging.

                Also, you’ve now doubled down on saying Hansen ‘screamed’ about Barnes in 07. I can’t remember anything like this – care to actually front up with some evidence? The only time I remember him mentioning it was an offhand joke after he over-ruled a forward pass in a test against Wales last year. So go on – where’s the screaming?

              • October 24th 2017 @ 12:40am
                FunBus said | October 24th 2017 @ 12:40am | ! Report

                ‘…whinged about the AB’s having the temerity to find a bug in their hotel room.’

                The issue with the bug was that the ABs sat on the news of a criminal act for a number of days, releasing a statement to the media on the morning of the test. It left the impression, and not for the first time, that they believe the rules that apply to normal mortals don’t apply to them.

                Hansen doesn’t need to whinge about anything. He simply gets the clapping seals of the NZ press to do his bleating for him. Watching the AB management manipulate the Kiwi press into taking dictation, particularly around foul play incidents, is fascinating.

              • October 24th 2017 @ 8:43am
                rebel said | October 24th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

                Another hyperbole top up from a bus with windows on one side only.

              • October 26th 2017 @ 8:06pm
                ClarkeG said | October 26th 2017 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

                3 respected NZ commentators…you mean TV commentators?

                really? surely not Justin?

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:16am
            Mike Julz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            Nope. He’s Aussie as they come. You wanna talk reputation then you should watch Hansens humble in defeat reaction.

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

      All I can think about is Dunedin and how close we were, could have had the Bledisloe. So close but still not there yet.

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

      As a NZ supporter Saturday’s game was very frustrating to watch. The AB’s made way too many errors, gave away stupid penalties and lacked composure and maturity.

      Having the ref at one point telling the players to basically grow up was embarassing.

      I believe the All Blacks biggest issue is first five. Neither first five we have is a great tactician and we have lacked a master tactician like Dan Carter or Grant Fox. If your down by one point and your team is under pressure why not slot a drop goal. This would have benefited against the lions aswell.

      Flashy Rugby is not always smart Rugby.

      • Roar Guru

        October 23rd 2017 @ 8:49am
        Adam said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        It was probably the most frantic I’ve seen the All Blacks play for a long time. Barnes specifically singled out Coles to Read during the second (?) half for being involved with a few incidents.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 23rd 2017 @ 1:51pm
          piru said | October 23rd 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          My feeling was quite the opposite.
          The All Blacks seemed lethargic and disinterested – backing up was poor and far too much niggle was entered into, indicative of a poor mindset.

          From the moment Read buggered up the haka I think their minds were elsewhere

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am
        JB said | October 23rd 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        you have just explained what it’s like to be a wallaby fan for the last 15 years!

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:50am
        zhenry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        I have posted this before but Cruden big loss, great understanding with SBW, and latterly his game went off because coaches didn’t alternate with Barrett enough, not enough game time
        Sopoaga had awful game he is much better than that; Generally coaches need to alternate players more, regularly put one inexperienced player with rest experienced.
        I noticed MHinton reckoned Sopoaga had a good game, shows up his rugby knowledge, this NZ journalist is one of Fairfax’s hatchet jobs.

    • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:22am
      sheek said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Spiro,

      FHS, this is just one match, one win.

      Next test for Wallabies is to beat ABs twice in a row, then win 50 % of matches, then win more than 50% of matches against them.

      One win, one small step forward. Nothing more, nothing less.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:55am
        jameswm said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Nice to be going forward rather than backward though, Sheek.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:08pm
        bigbaz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        you know sheek, longest journey and all that stuff.

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

      One win in over two years, hardly beat the Boks, and they on the rise. ABs were missing a lot of their starters in this one.
      The Wallabies lost their chance of winning the Bledisloe especially this year where they get to host two home bledisloe matches. Now they gotta play two away games for the next couple of years I think.
      Not taking anything away from their victory, they deserved it. But I’ve seen these types of articles before whenever the ABs lose to the WBs. Maybe if they are sick of losing the bledisloe cup every year, they should be thinking of start winning the first match at ANZ stadium, then setup a classic decider. Because as we know, if ABs wins that test, they win the Bledisloe.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 8:29am
        Jerry said | October 23rd 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        Two Bleds in NZ next year, 2019 will probably only be a two match series as it’s a RWC year.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 11:18am
          Mike Julz said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          So it means two more years of drinking Steinlager from the cup.

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