To the delight of their wide fan base, a phenomenal New Zealand All Blacks team has literally ‘shown all their cards’ at 2019 Rugby World Cup. They have blitzed Ireland, to make a strong statement and proceed to the semifinals.
And it was phenomenal, as they built on an impressive opening half of rugby, that only seemed to get better in the second half. Winning by 46-14 in the end, they cemented their place in the Rugby World Cup (RWC) knockout stages by sending Ireland home – and avenging a 2018 loss in Dublin.
Good news for their fans. It delighted many, including Last Word on Rugby managing editor Scott Hornell, who has followed the team to Japan.
Read his analysis of the teams standing, and how by ‘laying out their cards’ they have put the odds firmly in their favour; against England at the International Stadium, in Yokahama.
Phenomenal New Zealand All Blacks ‘show their cards’ at 2019 RWC
With stars of the quality, like Player of the Match, Beauden Barrett (see main photo), and two-try scorer Aaron Smith and hooker Codie Taylor, the stocks of the New Zealand All Blacks have risen higher after this game. With just the hint of a question over the form of the back-to-back champions raised, or any nerves that the All Blacks management may have felt (due to fewer matches than Ireland). The side played superbly and answered those critics in Tokyo.
Star players aside, the entire group appeared to be united from the very start. By using a possessional advantage, they played much of the game inside the Irish half. The below statistics are proof evident that the match was dominated by the All Blacks from the beginning.
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) October 19, 2019
A good first half was followed by even more pressure in the second. Ireland admitted post-game, that they were blindsided by the ferocity and creation of the New Zealand team. “Today, we just met a team who I think is number one in the world for a reason,” was the judgment by departing head coach Joe Schmidt. That reason is both in the ferocity of their attack, plus stout defence where players like Sevu Reece make smart decisions, to halt likely Irish attack out wide.
“If you’re not on the money, you’re going to be incredibly disappointed and I am.”
Thousands of Irish fans to are bitterly disappointed too. It continues a poor record of seven quarterfinals played; with seven quarterfinals losses. The drop from being a Grand Slam winner, to now falling further down the rankings will be hard to swallow. The sports betting sites that promoted Ireland ahead of the All Blacks, will now reset their odds. Expect the New Zealand All Blacks to shorten quickly, as they won their 18th straight RWC fixture.
The All Blacks coach was fair in his praise for his own side. He said his team deserved that victory; with all the hard work and preparation they put in, Hansen summing it up well. “We got up and made some punishing tackles, that forced some Irish turnovers early. When you are doing that it makes the opposition second guess a bit. And we got some psychological advantage out of that defence.”
His captain Kieran Read – sporting a bruised and battered body – also reinforced that the figures did not represent the intensity of the Irish effort. “It was a very tough test match. I think the scoreboard can I guess, flatter us. We were very good tonight, the way we took our opportunities but the Irish are a tough team.”
The outcome was eerily similar to the 2015 path for the All Blacks. Then, they demolished the French quarterfinalists, 62-13. The men in black certainly feel comfortable in the white-hot pressure of knockout football.
New Zealand gain supremacy early in Quarterfinal clash
While all is not shown as clearly in figures as on the scoreboard, the statistical numbers do not lie. Ireland will shudder when they read through their own, let alone the New Zealand All Blacks teams’ stats. Below is a fine display of information, that is by all means supported in the visual display, as much as in the technical nature of sport today.
Ireland forced to start 13 attacks in own 22. NZ just 5. Love how the basics bite. NZ kicking 50% off all the times they attack. Plus more width. Attack variance is key. You cannot just use the hammer. pic.twitter.com/en2d2X8iYQ
— ʙʀᴇɴᴅᴏɴ sʜɪᴇʟᴅs (@rugbycology) October 19, 2019
If the All Blacks setpiece was in question, then fans can be satisfied that from scrum and in multiple phase-play, their team is dominant. While losing some lineouts will need correction against England, the offensive-defence meant 11% of attacks originate from turnovers. That could have even been higher, when looking at stoppages that (if allowed to continue) would have seen more counter-attack. Instantaneous reactions, quick passing or the grubber kick for Beauden Barrett’s try, is where this team are so formidable.
Referee Nigel Owens was again at his fluid best. Speaking fairly to teams captains, he took no lip and spoke to a few players who thought they could rule better than him. Some will say that a few calls were missed, and the strange scenario of a fallen Matt Todd being literally ‘forced against his own goal post’ and then the ignominy of being sent from the field for it, was a bizarre call.
But the game was a pleasure to watch. Those who were not already aware of the attacking menace of the All Blacks, should prepare to be educated. That is in their handling and passing technique, where they are world-class across the park. Cross-field kicks are an attacking weapon they use best, and their ability to retain possession from high kicks will see the remaining sides both study the All Blacks, as well as recalculating the odds of them raising the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time in November 2019.
All Blacks 46 – Tries: Aaron Smith (2), Beauden Barrett, Codie Taylor, George Bridge, Jordie Barrett; Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (4); Penalty: Mo’unga
Ireland 14 – Tries: Robbie Henshaw, penalty try; Con: Joey Carbery
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images