I’ve watched this game twice now, and I’m still having troubles finding the words to describe it, or rather Australia’s role in the match. Because for this Bledisloe, there was only one word: breathtaking.
In some ways it’s difficult to pinpoint any single player, as all the Wallabies had a hand in this win. It’s also hard to pinpoint a part of the game that won this test as Australia fought this battle on so many fronts. But here it goes.
It’s tempting to start with the attacking play (4 tries against the ABs will do that) but instead I want to start with the kicking game we seem to have picked up from no-where. All of a sudden our next great 15, AAC, is dropping bombs 30cm outside the 22 with a line of 10 men in front of him and Berrick Buns lacing daggers behind their backline. Since when did we know how to do that? It absolutely fµcked them, and despite the amount of ball we didn’t have in the first half, this together with my next point had New Zealand as quivering wrecks.
The breakdown. First, what we’ve always done well: George Smith. If you’re new to the blog you won’t realise that contrary to mis-placed public and kiwi opinion, I know for a fact that George Smith is the best 7 that the world has ever seen and he showed it again today. On a good day McCaw can match him on the deck and in defence, but not with ball in hand. Smith killed them today, just at the right times.
But it’s the counter rucking – as if that’s a new idea – which has crept into the Wallaby play as a welcome addition. In short, whenever the Wallabies were in two minds today, they knew they could hoof it down-field with a laser guided bomb and pick up a turnover from there. Nice.
And this was with the usual fantastic scrambling D. The thing that amazed me today with the D was the 9-10-12 channel. Nonu didn’t know what do next after finding himself smashed by any one of the Australian halves. It was beautiful to watch, although not unexpected. The only NZ team with more than one game plan now has its coach leading the wallabies.
And I don’t want to forget the piggies. Scrum just about held it own, the line-out dominated as expected, but most importantly the forwards made both the hard tackles and the hard yards.
Utlimately, this is what impressed me the most – the Wallabies ability to change tactics and gear when reuired. The last time I saw that was in a S14 final just a few months ago……
For those of us stuck up on the Mud Isle, we had the treat today of Justin ‘Plank’ Harrison in the studio with Sean ‘Lazy Runner’ Fitzpatrick. This was ace because Harrison has actually played professional rugby this century and even knows the players, unlike Fitzy. Apart from just making so much more sense (and give SF some sh1t like no-one else ever does) The Plank said this (approximately):
The ABs always have the better athletes, but we can always play smarter. And when we do, we win
How right he got it today.
So my problem is – how do I rate the individual performances in a game like this?