The intensity of the All Blacks’ ruthless running game should carry the world champs to another comfortable win over the Wallabies in Wellington on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Wallabies would not have wanted to go and look at the post-match statistics from last weekend’s 42-8 humbling at the hands of the All Blacks in Sydney.
As illustrated by SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats, it was something of an attacking annihilation. The All Blacks scored six tries to one, made 839m to 307, completed 175 carries to 107, beat 40 defenders to 13, executed 22 clean breaks to two and pulled off 28 offloads to six.
To make matters worse, the Wallabies missed 40 tackles, made 10 handling errors, lost four of their lineouts and produced an inaccurate kicking display that gifted the All Blacks possession. In short, it was an abysmal performance from the Aussies.
And while it’s hard to imagine they could be any worse this Saturday, it’s just as hard to see them stopping the All Blacks machine from once again steamrolling its way to a resounding victory.
In Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett, the All Blacks have a peerless halfback pairing, with the latter particularly riding a wave of confidence that has evolved into an unstoppable tsunami of game-shaping play.
What the All Blacks also did so well last week was to counter the Wallabies’ flat defence with dummy runners who drew in defenders, with Barrett varying his game superbly in terms of his timing when taking the ball flat or deep.
The Kiwis have had minimal disruptions this week, but they have lost workmanlike centre Ryan Crotty to injury, and so there will be a big job for debutant Anton Lienert-Brown to do as he slots into the No 12 channel.
The Wallabies have also enforced a midfield reshuffle, with an injury to Matt Giteau seeing Bernard Foley shift from flyhalf to inside centre, while Quade Cooper comes in at No 10. After a poor performance last weekend, outside centre Tevita Kuridrani has also been dropped to the bench, with big Samu Kerevi taking his starting place.
There’s no doubt that the effectiveness of this new 10-12-13 combination will go a long way to determining just how competitive the Wallabies will be, while they desperately need an improved performance from their forward pack.
Scott Fardy comes back into the starting lineup to add better balance to the back row, while the return of Adam Coleman at No 5 will be aimed at shoring up their malfunctioning lineout.
Ultimately, a smarting Wallabies side should be expected to put up a better showing on Saturday, but the All Blacks retain all the firepower to clinch another bonus-point win that would strengthen their position as Rugby Championship front-runners.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: All Blacks 107 Wallabies 42
At Westpac Stadium: All Blacks 3 Wallabies 1
STATS AND FACTS
– The All Blacks have won their last 18 games in a row at home to the Wallabies. Australia have not crossed the Tasman and won since August 2001.
– New Zealand have won their last 41 home games, the longest run of consecutive home wins by any team in Test history. The All Blacks last lost at home in 2009.
– The All Blacks lost two of their first five fixtures at Westpac Stadium. However, they have won 15 in a row at the venue since then.
– Australia are aiming to win back-to-back away games for the first time since a run of four consecutive wins on their November 2013 tour in Europe (excluding World Cup games).
– The Wallabies have crossed for at least one try in each of their last 22 away games, last failing to get across the whitewash in an away game in November 2012 against France.
– The Wallabies have now conceded more than 40 points in each of their last two games. Never before in Test history has an Australian team conceded such an amount in three straight games.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|All Blacks||Beauden Barrett (17)||Ryan Crotty, Waisake Naholo, Beauden Barrett, Jerome Kaino, Julian Savea (1)||Waisake Naholo (104)||Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock (12)|
|Wallabies||Nick Phipps (5)||Nick Phipps (1)||Israel Folau (56)||Tevita Kuridrani (16)|
All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Seta Tamanivalu.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Dane Haylett-Petty, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Ala’alatoa, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Will Skelton, 21 Tevita Kuridrani, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Nick Phipps.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images