Much has been made of the Wallabies ‘new dawn’ since beating the Bokkies two weeks ago. It is hard to believe the week before that they were being written off as ‘second raters’ who were not up to the test of international rugby.
An objective observation leads to the conclusion the Wallabies were probably not as bad as people made out prior to their only win of this year’s Tri-nations, and by the same assessment, are probably not as good as some are claiming since that win.
The All Blacks face a similar scenario, just one week ago they were challenging to win the Tri-nations, and only missed doing so by a handful of points, but this week they are being cast as a basket case.
They resentment at Graham Henry and his coaching cohort is reaching its zenith and a loss by the All Blacks tonight may well see a black clad throng storm the coaches box and unleash the sort of revolution that brought down King Louis XVI after he coached France to a string of defeats in 1789.
The Wallabies win in Brisbane was based on them moving the ball quickly from kick receptions and forcing the Boks to come forward and defend. The Wallabies showed greater commitment at the breakdown and this was in part attributed to the new found balance of the back-row that run-on debutant David Pocock provided.
There is no doubt the All Blacks will kick the ball, it is what they have based their both their victories over the Wallabies on this year, so the challenge will once again be for the Wallabies to deal effectively with this threat.
If there was one facet the Wallabies could truly lay claim to having the wood on the AB’s, it is the line-out. All year the AB’s have been unable to consistently get the line-out right so it would be hard to believe it will be any different this game.
It will be vital for Giteau and Barnes kick away from the All Black back three and make sure their kicks go well into touch so not to give the All Blacks a quick line-out option.
The Wallabies attack well from first phase ball with Barnes drifting wide from no. 10 linking up with straight running options. This attack should be focused on the latest AB centre combination as neither Nonu or Toeava are noted defenders. Both struggle maintaining defensive structure, instead preferring to rush out of the line and try to pull off the grandstand hit.
This game will be close and reasonable arguments can be made as to why either team will win but the simple fact is the Wallabies look to have finally found some decent combinations whereas the All Blacks are still searching.
The Wallabies have not won at the Cake Tun since St John kicked ‘that’ penalty after the whistle in 2000, they have waited long enough – it’s time!
Cote says – Wallabies by 4