You can build all you like but there comes a time when you have to stand and deliver. Now is that time.
The Wallabies did deliver in Brisbane against a misfiring Springbok side who had been twice beaten up by the All Blacks in the previous few weeks.
There’s no doubt that this was our best chance for a win in the Tri-Nations and we played somewhere near our potential to grab it. And let’s not downplay our efforts because it was pretty damn good on the night and reinvigorated the side.
That was then, this is now. It’s our turn to face the music. Do we have the capacity to defeat this quality Kiwi side and come out smelling of roses, or is it going to be chump city again for us?
The last time we defeated them was this time two years and seven games ago, in Sydney for a 34 – 19 win. Crikey, those were the days when Lote Tuqiri and Tim Tam Muppet were playing for us, it seems a lifetime ago?
There are four forwards and three backs from the run-on side that day going round again (Rock, Sharpie, Squeeky, Cat, Gits, Sookface and AAC) who’ll remember exactly what it takes to defeat this juggernaut.
We’ve only won twice at home against the All Blacks in the past five years – they’ve defeated us on four occasions.
So, there really isn’t much of a home ground advantage for us. As opposed to the Blicks, when we last defeated them in New Zealand in 2001. Fortress Aotearoa has proven to be virtually unconquerable.
Our record against the Bokke away isn’t that much better either: won 2, lost 10 in the past decade.
There is a really hard edge to this All Black team, not that there usually isn’t but the Bob Dwyer adage about having a solid core of world class players is starting to ring true with these guys.
You couldn’t argue too loudly that Woodcock, Mealamu, McCaw, Carter, Muliaina and a few others wouldn’t look out of place in a world team. But its the next tier of player like Kaino, Read, Thorn and Nonu who are giving them that flint-like edge.
When you look at the various forward battles that are going to take place on the weekend – scrum, lineout, ruck, maul, tackle – it’s hard to envision where exactly the Wallabies are going to have an advantage. The strength, experience and confidence of the Kiwi pack is formidable.
The All Blacks have the best scrum in the Tri-Nations and my feeling is that we’re going to have a devil of a time getting clean ball cleared from the No 8.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the pitch will be a factor in all this?
We’ve seen their counter-attacking capabilities in the past few weeks and two bonus points against the Bokke is a real indication of where they’re sitting at the moment.
The backlines look fairly evenly matched but I think they might have a real advantage in the midfield with Nonu and Smith playing out of their skin.
They’ve got a rampaging bash it up No 12, with a ball player of vision at 13. It’s just so well balanced and a stronger attacking unit than Barnes and Horne.
One indicator of strength is usually the bench, as you’re only as good as your depth. That’s positive news for us then because their bench looks about as inexperienced as ours….
The All Blacks will be their usual abrasive and physical self at the breakdown. They’ll virtually have the Tri-Nations sewn up if they defeat us on Saturday. You can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be going in for the kill.
Despite our great performance last weekend, I think this will be played at another level and I just can’t see our tight five and midfield matching them.
The promise that we are on track for the RWC needs affirmation. It is time to deliver. Please make me pleasantly surprised?
Lance says: ‘All Blacks by 11“