ABs’ dominant run continues
The All Blacks extended their winning streak to 15 Tests by beating the Springboks 41-13 in Christchurch. It was an even exchange in the first half with the Springboks slowing down the hosts’ attacking ball, while several forced penalties at ruck time made the All Blacks work to keep their own ball.
The game was still close at 22-10 at the 50-minute mark with tries to three wingers – Bryan Habana for the Springboks, and Israel Dagg and Julian Savea for the New Zealanders.
However, as in most games for the All Blacks in recent seasons, the 60th minute arrives and their superior fitness and depth of the comes to the fore. Their bench is second to none and even my least favourite player, halfback TJ Peranara, had a blinder coming on for Aaron Smith.
I’m not sure if it’s amazing or sad that hooker Dane Coles – man-of-the-match with three try assists – can throw a 20-metre cut out pass and hit someone on the chest for a try, but it happened with a five-pointer to Sam Whitelock in the 67th minute.
Ardie Savea was strong in his starting debut with a 100% tackling rate and a powerful try to boot. He went off after 60 minutes and the most unlucky player in New Zealand rugby, Matt Todd, came on and made a difference with a couple of pilfers and impressive support lines on attack.
The Springboks were extremely strong over the ball and caused heaps of problems at ruck time in the red zone, especially in the opening 40. They have so much talent across the field and even on the bench, but right now they are still learning how to play together and find their way with a new game-plan.
The new-look Boks will become a force to be reckoned with in years to come – once they figure out how to work as a team. They just couldn’t handle the pressure of the All Blacks’ defensive line, and perhaps should have tried a few grubber kicks to turn them around and slow down their line speed.
Gave out my first 10 last night. Big call, but Dane Coles was pretty close to perfect. https://t.co/3aZOWwj0Rh
— Marc Hinton (@marchintonffx) September 17, 2016
Wallabies chalk up back-to-back victories
What’s that, the Wallabies defended well? You heard it here first!
The Wallabies defended their line superbly against the Pumas’ 70 percent share of possession to carve out a 36-20 win in Perth. Australia scored three tries in the first 12 minutes to Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty and Will Genia…and then didn’t have the ball for the rest of the first half.
Argentina attacked very deep behind the advantage line, so it made it easy for the Wallabies to get up off the line and make tackles. The Pumas managed to score one try after half time – to Santiago Cordero – and one consolation try in the 72nd minute to flanker Facundo Isa, who will potentially become one of the great Argentine players of all time. He’s big, fast and extremely hard to tackle.
In the last 20 minutes the Pumas were playing catch-up footy, running sideways too much and made schoolboy errors, which helped the Wallabies to victory. I will say, however, that the Wallabies capitalised on their opportunities and didn’t let to many tryscoring opportunities go to waste.
It’s amazing what happens when you pick players on form and inject young, promising players such as Reece Hodge, Haylett-Petty, Sean McMahon and Lopeti Timani into the game. It’s also wise to build towards the next World Cup instead of a short-term fix, which can be the only justification for leaning on Europe-based players nearing the end of their careers.
Genia finished with a double, while the irrepressible Michael Hooper also added his name to the scoresheet in the second half as the Wallabies put the match out of Argentina’s reach. Quade Cooper’s excellent attacking contribution was compromised somewhat by a shoulder-charge yellow card midway through the second half.
— British&Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) September 17, 2016