Wallabies 24 – All Blacks 28.
Fahhk. I’m going to need some time to write anything semi-objective about this game, as today Australia managed to excite and infuriate in almost equal measure in a loss that handed the Tri Nations to New Zealand for the umpteenth friggen time.
So I’ll try and stick to relating on how it happened (or how I saw it):
1 min – Solid high take by AAC
2 min – A nervy penalty miss from Giteau fails to take the early lead.
15 min – Following some aimless kicking and shocking defence from the Wallabies (not for the last time in the match unfortunately) Muliaina was among another 6 unmarked black jerseys on the open side to score a try in the 15th minute. 0-7
6 min – Giteau giving away possession with aimles mid-field bombs. Moore gives away his first brainless penalty of the night
16 min – Giteau puts a penalty touch finder dead in goal
20 min – Palu knocks on with 2 unmarked men outside him
23 min – McCaw commits an offside at the ruck so blatant even Kaplan can’t miss it and Gits slots the goal. 3-7
27 min – Cross a standout for the Wallabies with straight strong running. Sustained pressure on the All Black line that the Wallabies can’t convert to points. Cordingly is so slow and indecisive at the ruck I’m shouting at the screen.
32 min – Palu limps off and Richard Brown on to create the 828th Wallaby. A good move.
41 min – Giteau kick-passes to Hynes who holds the ball up beautifully before offloading to AAC, who beats 2 defenders to grab a try. Gits converts. 10-7
HALF TIME – Wallabies have had 65% possession and 61% territory, but have released pressure at crucial times
45 min – Giteau slides a beautiful inside ball to Brown who recycles. Ball goes wide from ruck through Giteau to Horwill, who steamrollers Carter on his way to score. Gits slots another impressive conversion. The Wallabies in the ascendant – can we do this? 17-7
48th min – great hit on Carter by Hynes
50 min – The brainfarts begin. Sharpe decides defending is passe, and watches as Conrad Smith runs past him in the line. Woodcock strolls 30m to score in the corner. Classy kick from Carter 17-14
53 min – more pressure not converted into points. 13 phases camped on the AB line, Cordingly decides he can take on two front rowers and gets smashed. McCaw simply throws himself off his feet over onto the Wallaby side sealing off the ball and it’s a turnover to the ABs. Go figure.
55 min – Horwill puts in a great steal and then smashes Thorne. He’s once again embarrassing Sharpe
62 min – Soaiolo breaks through flimsy D. AAC on feet over the ball for 30 seconds but somehow Kaplan gives advantage to the Blecks. Sivivatu dummies Cross on the edge of the ruck and then pops to Weepu for a very soft try. Carter is a machine 17-21
64 min – ABs kicking is taking yards from Australia like candy from a baby
65 min – Wallabies have now completely switched off and must be thinking about what’s on telly tonight. Afoa works a short lineout and strolls down 30m almost to a try. For some reason Kaplan calls it back
67 min – Wallabies are man on man with the ABs 15m out. Mortlock comes hopelessly out of the line, first of all chasing the inside man, and then Carter who goes past Mortlock’s outside shoulder. Cross is left flat footed, misses Carter who strolls over and then converts. 17-28
All Blacks are now “counter-rucking” (diving over the ball) at every breakdown and Cordingly is either strangely absent or ponderously slow, allowing them to do so.
75 min – Australia remembers they’re in this thing called a Tri-Nations decider and start to actually play some rugby through Cross, Giteau and the forwards. On front foot towards try line when Cordingly bullets a pass a metre above McMenimens head. He obliges with a knock-on. Is this game over?
77th min – With the ensuing 3 re-sets the Wallabies actually screw the ABs scrum earning a turn over. From the scrum, Giteau uses Mortlock as the decoy and drops the inside ball to Cross who goes through 5 All Blacks to score. Gits slots it in front. It’s still on, kind of. 24-28
79th minute – NZ running the clock down with pick and drives 30m out from the Aussie line. Christ knows how, but following this strange thing called counter-rucking from Brown, Smith rips the ball out of the maul and we’re away, Giteau searing upfield and bulleting a pass that somehow Tuqiri holds onto and is tackled. Brown comes to the rescue with Mortlock, Cordingly catches a cab there.
81st min – 5 phases later and 30 meters on through the hands, the ABs are penalised for offside. Gits taps and passes. Smith gets stranded in midfield, Cordingly watches as the ABs pile over, the ball miraculously pops out to Weepu who boots it into touch.
Bye bye Trinations. Bye bye Blesdisloe. Bye bye The Plan. Hello mediocrity. Again.