All Blacks vs Australia – Tri-Nations 7 Aug 2010
Last weekend saw one of the most entertaining games of Test rugby I have seen for a long time. Say what you want about ‘cheating’ at the breakdown and poor referees, at the moment the All Blacks are by far the best team in the world by a long shot.
The pace at which this All Black team does everything on the field is one of the big differences. They are able to run the ball from anywhere and the way the forwards link with the backs is unreal. This is not to say that they do not kick. They have actually kicked the ball more than both the Springboks and the Aussies.
It is the accuracy of the kicking and the pressure chase that is the difference. I am sure the Kiwis will disagree but it does sound much like a game plan the Springboks utilised last year to such great effect. What the All Blacks have added to this strategy is the willingness to keep ball in hand when they need to, fantastic support play and dominating the breakdowns.
The refereeing of the breakdown is where much of the controversy has fallen and is staying. It has seemingly found a happy home there and looks to be renting it out for the season. Check out this little bit of thought provoking and indeed anger inducing (at least by Bok fans) analysis.
This week however, we have the very good and very consistent Johnathan Kaplan taking the reigns and expect to see a stricter handling of the breakdowns and a quick-pace action adventure game that will suit both teams.
On the subject of why we keep getting northern hemisphere refs, Andre Watson had this to say “The referees are appointed for Vodacom Tri-Nations by the IRB. They use only the top 8 in the world of which SA has 3 and NZ 1. That’s all for the Southern hemisphere. The reality is that our three referees all referee in the Tri-Nations but cannot referee SA. The other 4 referees are all from the Northern hemisphere and considered in the top 8 in the world”
So there you have it. Sad but true. I personally believe IRB head of refs Paddy O’Brien is a douche but what can you do.
On to this week and I reckon it will be another comprehensive victory to the All blacks, who will win with a bonus point and seal the Tri-Nations before even getting to SA. Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Mils Muliaina and Cory Jane are all playing in the form of their lives and although Carter’s kicking for posts has not been as good as he would like it doesn’t matter because the All blacks are so gosh darn good at scoring tries.
For the Aussies, Pocock and Elsom are the shining lights, with Will Genia doing his best behind a struggling pack and Ashley-Cooper always capable of a line break or two. This Aussie team misses Quade burglar Cooper though and seem to lack the depth needed to really become a dominant force. They did show moments of brilliance last week however and are building towards the World Cup next year.
Let’s hope for no yellow cards this week and tries aplenty.
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick off: 9:35am
Prediction: All Blacks by 15 to 20