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Worst nightmare or smart ploy?


Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, RWC 2011, Springboks, Tri Nations, Wallabies on 29 Aug 2011 at 10:11
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

The Wallabies won their first Tri Nations title in ten years on Saturday morning, and this has opened the door to many questions. A few that jump to mind: Did the All Blacks peak too early, yet again? Was it a ploy to instill false confidence in the teams to face the All Blacks later in the competition? Or was a it a case of simply being outplayed on the day?

I am sure most All Black supporters are starting to have nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, wondering where it all went wrong. To be honest, my thoughts are that the Aussies have played their final and will battle to pull a similar stunt in the World Cup, should they face each other.

Australia came out guns blazing, something I did not expect should you put this game into context. It was a final, winner takes the title, and with it being the final game before the World Cup, one would expect a slower start, like two boxers feeling each other out. That’s definitely what the All Blacks expected!

What the Australians did in those first forty minutes is what most teams only dream of doing, and that was to completely outplay the men from New Zealand, putting immense pressure on them by enforcing a Jake White-like rushed defence. And it worked!

What the New Zealanders proved though, is to never ever write them off as they hit back after half time, drawing level without much effort. This is where the old Australian team would have lied down, getting ready for what should be some pain. But they didn’t, they hit back harder, and through some determined play and some amazing defence, and proved that they can close down tight matches, something they have failed to do in the past.

So where did it go wrong for New Zealand? Firstly, their space was taken away. The Australian rushed defence worked a charm, and with no space, they could do nothing with the little ball they had. Their wingers were punished with quite a few high balls, and could not manage on a night where the ball was slightly slippery. Both Guildford and Jane, although they have amazing speed, lacked the penetration the likes of Gear and Sivivatu offer.

For the Aussies, a few things came to the fore. The value of having a World Class scrumhalf is indescribable, as Will Genia must be the best in world at the moment. With him and Quade Cooper on form, they make a fantastic combination that can break any defense! Another positive is that Adam Ashley-Cooper is better suited to wing, compared to outside centre where he has played quite a bit of rugby lately. James O’Conner will battle to just walk back into this team.

All in all, I think this match has been an ideal curtain raiser for what should be a great World Cup. Will New Zealand choke yet again, will the Aussies be able to dominate as they did this past weekend. And will the Springboks even feature? All this will be answered in the next few weeks.



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