All Blacks tie up Bledisloe Cup with third win over Wallabies

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 28 October 2018, 2:19p.m.
The All Blacks have stunned in a 37-20 win over the Wallabies. (Photo / Getty)


However much it may be a detestable term, wrongly used to the point where the players have almost become a parody of themselves, the All Blacks showed in Yokohama that they had indeed taken the learnings from the Rugby Championship.

They managed to score five tries – one short of their customary six – against the Wallabies, but yet played in a contrasting style to their first two Bledisloe victories.

This was a performance a world away – figuratively and literally – to the turnover mayhem the All Blacks produced back in August.

This was more of a World Cup sort of set-up – a more conservative, yet not overly so approach where the All Blacks trusted the traditional components of their game.

Their scrum was quite fantastic and they used it as their best attacking platform and also as a means to win penalties.

They launched a driving maul from inside their own 22 at one stage which was a tactic straight out of South Africa's playbook and one that earned the All Blacks a 60 metre gain by the time Beauden Barrett booted the resulting penalty into touch.

Come the pressure-filled knockout rounds of World Cup games, these sorts of skills will be invaluable.

"It was a good start," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. "Australia played differently to what we are playing in the next couple of weeks but they are a formidable opponent and on their day can play very well. So it was a good performance from us."

The other new trick the All Blacks tried and ultimately benefited from was starting with two play-makers.

In recent tests the burden of decision-making has fallen almost exclusively on Barrett.

But the selection of Damian McKenzie at fullback gave the All Blacks more options to keep the Wallabies' defence guessing and the little Chiefs wizard contributed wisely and effectively.

"He's a quality player we were really happy with the options he gave us because he allowed that to take a bit of pressure off Beauden," said Hansen of McKenzie.

"So having two drivers on the park is good for us and something we will look to keep doing going forward."

The hope now for Hansen is that his players see victory in Yokohama as a triumph for being patient and accepting that they don't need to try to win the game in the first 20 minutes.

What they presumably learned in the Rugby Championship is that hard work early in the game can be a long-term investment.

That sometimes it is best to play in fourth gear and be more accurate, hold the ball for a little bit longer and reduce the mistakes that often come with higher risk rugby.

The All Blacks didn't throw impossible passes in the first half hour. They didn't get anxious that the Wallabies defence was proving resolute in that period and they didn't try to force the pace to push for the try.

Instead they would regroup, go back to the forwards to batter ahead by inches again until the space finally opened for them to launch a wider attack.

"They are never an easy team to break down and clearly they were motivated in the first 30 minutes," said All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster.

"We took our time which we haven't done in the last couple of weeks and we were patient which I think we showed with Liam's try. We played our way through it."

That patience earned the All Blacks an easier final quarter as by then, the Wallabies were chasing the game, taking risks and perhaps tiring a bit.

That allowed the All Blacks to up the pace, to play wider and stretch and break the Wallabies with quick fire tries from Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane.

"We actually wanted to feel like we were in control of the game," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

"We started better than we have done in the last few tests and once you have your nose in front, you control the game. It was a good start."


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