What a game!
The last seven minutes after the whistle were worth more than the full 80 minutes. An awesome display of sustained attack versus stubborned and determined defence from both sides.
Sad to say, the rugby gods refused to smile down at the Wallabies when Reece Hodge had the ball for the penalty goal.
Just inches separated an unexpected win and a history of talk in years to come had the unpredictable ball turned the other way round after hitting the goal post.
For the first time in years, the Wallabies fought hard to be on the front foot in the last ten minutes. It reminds me of George Gregan’s famous mantra during his glorious rugby days, “the last ten minutes is championship time”. It is a time when everybody should focus on and put their heart and soul on the line.
This young Wallabies team should be drilled by Dave Rennie to adopt this same mantra. And the captain should speak to the team at the ten minute spot to get more adrenaline flowing before the final whistle.
For the first time in years, it is nice to know that the Wallabies are not sent to the slaughterhouse each time they face the All Blacks across the pond.
Coach Dave Rennie has an advantage with this young Wallabies. They are like newly mined raw diamonds which Rennie can cut and tool into whichever form he likes. Coach Rennie is not encumbered with any left-over baggage with this 2020 Wallabies team.
For a change, folks in Oz have something exciting to look forward to in rugby union.
Here are my major observations from the match.
1. James O’Connor had a good game. Showed his experience and varied his tactical play as the game progressed.
2. Nic White, despite my pre-game reservations, also had a good game. He showed the kind of aggression in his running game the Wallabies needed. His pass from the ground that led to a try was phenomenal. Nic had a good kicking game from behind the scrum. Also showed good quick passing behind the scrum.
3. Matt To’omua was a reliable No.12 but he needs to be more judicious with his opportunistic kicking. We are talking about the All Blacks, well known from the fact that once they have the ball from a mistake, their retaliatory punishment is decisive, they made it into an art form.
4. Wingers. It’s been a long while since we see the Wallabies making a deliberate effort to get the ball to the wingers. Its good to see the backline actually creating space for the wingers to give them a chance to run to the touch line.
5. Broken breakdown. The Wallabies at breakdown was awful and amateurish. Losing the ball like schoolboys rugby, this should be fixed before the next game.
6. Line out woes. The Wallabies line-out was still wobbly, and the All Blacks saw it early and capitalised on it. This must be fixed. You can’t afford to lose the ball at line out especially to the All Blacks whose backline on attack is considered the deadliest in the modern game.
7. Defence Wallabies’ defence is impressive. I believe it is a carry-over from the Brumbies players.
The refereeing left much to be desired. For such an important game like the Bledisloe, we would expect a real world-class refereeing.
Yes, yes, I know, one swallow does not make a summer. But all said, get ready with the popcorn and a comfortable armchair for 2020/21 season.