Neither will be particularly happy with a Drawn Test match

Neither will be particularly happy with a Drawn Test match

As neither side will be particularly happy with a drawn test match, one side will have a better grasp on how well they played (than the other).

Both sides will feel displeased to not take away the advantage in the annual trans-Tasman contest yet, Dave Rennie will feel much better because his side held the All Blacks to just two tries.

With the average scores for New Zealand over the last few years shooting up to 30-plus he will have to celebrate minimizing the attacking capabilities of the All Blacks. A key factor that Rennie spoke of pre-game, it was noted in the press conference at the conclusion of the 16-16 drawn test match.

“We knew we had to defend pretty well and I am rapt with the character,” he said.

“I think we are miles away from where we can be. What was going to be important today was our character. We will grow our game. It was never going to be perfect, it was always going to be around the character and we saw plenty of that but the key thing is that we have to back it up.”

Neither will be particularly happy with a Drawn Test match

When asked, Ian Foster wanted to speak about the positive manner in which his men played. “At the end of the day we ended up with a draw which is bitterly disappointing for an All Blacks side but it’s a start and we’ve got a pretty good marker of where we’re at right now.

“I loved the ‘don’t give up’ attitude we played some smart rugby in that window. We got ourselves into a really good opportunity but we weren’t coordinated enough to take it.”

If not un-coordinated then at times, stunted was how best to explain the All Blacks attack. With several attacking opportunities to count in the first half, one successful try was the only reward. The opening salvo was ‘all-out attack’ from the visitors. Getting right into their gameplan was the Wallabies’ best start, and if it were not for the well-formed defence, most sides would have broken.

And then, just as they are famous for, All Blacks counter-attacked and the hosts scored first.

Played in a positive mood, conditions early were overcast before later the wind and heavy rain resulted in more close-quarters rugby. Some of the well-documented mauls that the Super Rugby Australia-winning Brumbies pack utilizes had less success against the organized Kiwis. More often only gaining minimal ground, when they did look to incorporate a set move from a lineout ended badly.

Recovering a loose ball, Sam Cane began a breakout which would have perfectly ended the first half. Incredibly though, while attempting to plant the ball, Rieko Ioane lost control of the ball over the line. An unconscionable act, many have also wanted to highlight his foot visually appearing to touch the sideline in the movement leading to Jordie Barrett’s try.

Not a night to remember for the Blues center, promoted ahead of Anton Lienert-Brown. Yet single moments such as these are key points to decipher.

Drawn Test Match not simply down to Ioane error

Targetting one player is unfair. He will feel disappointed but as a whole game, the All Blacks will know that the conditions, reception of the high ball and a lack of territory cost them too.

Damian McKenzie, George Bridge, and even Richie Mo’unga struggled to secure an aerial tactic that made the best use a blustery wind. Sky Stadium once again tested an individual’s skill in perception. Many balls were either miscalculated, spilled, or, some attempts were not even within reach. Nic White and James O’Connor did more with their strategy than NZ players had in the opening half.

And with the wind making life difficult in the lineout, the All Blacks stole more ball than they lost. Possession did favour the Wallabies for long periods, and their two tries with wings  Marika Koribete and the debutant  Filipo Daugunu before the 70th minute hauled in the All Blacks second try to Aaron Smith. Neither were converted, matching the missed attempts from Barrett. O’Connor though was successful with his final penalty, to put the visitors in front.

Barrett would equalize but a game-changing late penalty for the Australian’s saw the match balanced just after regulation time. The moment when Reece Hodge lined up a 60-meter penalty had every fan on the edge of their seats. With his prodigious punt [see his 2017 penalty kick], Reece actually clouted the uprights – you might say millimeters from Legendary status. It again proved to demonstrate just how the Wellington wind was affecting the outcome of another epic encounter.

Simply not down to one moment, although with as much effort as they had from the outset, Rennie would be proud of the pressure applied in added-time. The Wallabies were close to placing one hand on the Bledisloe Cup but, they spilled the ball at the precise wrong moment.

New Zealand too, used favourable late possession to move upfield superbly. Moving to a handy attacking position, and in referees time, the end of the game couldn’t come from a penalty yet micro-skills let each team down. Maybe there were poor decisions made by each side not to attempt a dropkick although, in essence, it was an example of Southern hemisphere play.

Sam Cane wrapped it up nicely, describing the frenetic last eight minutes, “There weren’t many stoppages to have a chat, it was pretty much all go. It just highlights that test matches are about taking opportunities and there are only a couple in each game.”

100th Test for Michael Hooper couldn’t be more memorable

The youngest player to reach the century mark for Australia, he is the 12th Wallaby who achieves the figure. And playing against New Zealand would have been a pleasant aspect.

He said on SkySport, “enjoyable game despite the conditions, despite the result, we’re off to a good start with some things”. He and Dave Rennie know that there will need to be an extra effort given in six days time, to get one over their greatest adversaries.

With this, the follow-up test at Eden Park takes on a more important connotation. Whichever side can gain the advantage here, only needs one more win to hold the prestigious trophy.

Heralded as highly as the Webb Ellis Cup, the Bledisloe series may include two games in The Rugby Championship 2020, it always holds it’s own position as a crucial goal for both side’s ambitions for each International season.

New Zealand v Australia – Sunday, October 17. 4:00pm (NZT) Eden Park


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