What we’ve learned

Five lessons from the past weekend's international matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.

Referees must be consistent when giving yellow cards
The All Blacks should have been reduced to 14 men early in the match at Eden Park when Ma'a Nonu held back James Haskell as England threatened to score a try. Welsh referee Nigel Owens also should have pulled out a yellow card at a crucial stage of the second half, when Jonny May kicked ahead and regathered possession a metre out from the All Blacks' tryline. Ben Smith refused to release the England winger, yet only a penalty was awarded. Minutes later, Ben Youngs lost possession at a ruck and Brodie Retallick stormed back into England's half. Marland Yarde was then sent to the sin bin for not rolling away at the resultant ruck, 15m away from the English tryline, even though players from both teams were lying there. Where was the consistency from Owens?

The All Blacks are vulnerable when you dominate their scrum
England were strong up front on Saturday, smashing the All Blacks scrum twice in the second half. The visitors showed that if you dominate the set piece you can reduce the impact of halfbacks Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden, who didn't have front-foot ball from which to attack, and the team as a whole. Heyneke Meyer, and the Springboks, would have taken note. 

England have good depth
Stuart Lancaster was missing 16 players through injury and unavailability yet came within two minutes of claiming a deserved draw at a ground where New Zealand haven't lost since 1994. Rob Webber was excellent at hooker, James Haskell and Ben Morgan showed the depth England have in the back row, while Freddie Burns (who only played because Saracens' Owen Farrell could not be selected) controlled the game well, and kicked well out of hand and at goal. Lancaster must be comforted to know that he has several Test quality players waiting in the wings if injury strikes.

The Springboks must adapt quickly to northern hemisphere referee interpretations
Heyneke Meyer said the Boks' inability to get the ball back quickly from the breakdown had a negative impact on the way they played against the World XV at Newlands. While southern hemisphere referees try to facilitate quick ball at the ruck, those from the northern hemisphere, like Ireland's George Clancy, let the defending team get away with more when it comes to contesting and slowing down the ball. Meyer admitted that the Boks must adapt quicker to referees and that the World XV match would help them to make that adjustment.

Picking players who have shown consistently good form can pay off
When announcing his first match 23 of the year, Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said he had rewarded Super Rugby form. It's why he axed veteran scrumhalf Will Genia, who had battled for the Reds all season, and gave Nic White the No 9 jersey. The Brumbies' player justified his selection, giving good service to Bernard Foley and putting France under pressure with accurate kicking. Like White, Foley has been in good form this season and may have started at 10 ahead of Quade Cooper even if the latter had been fit. The Waratahs flyhalf dictated play and ensured that inside centre Matt Toomua, and the dangerous Israel Folau, got the ball regularly. There are times when coaches should select out-of-form players based on what they have achieved in the past, but the Wallabies' 50-23 win shows what can happen when form is rewarded.

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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