What makes the All Blacks such a potent side?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The third Bledisloe cup was played at pace with the Wallabies taking the attack to the opposition at every opportunity. The All Blacks were without Dan Carter and regular skipper McCaw but it did not show. Sam Cane looked in terrific form and it just simply proves the point that the All Blacks bench strength is simply overflowing, as opposed to the Wallabies. In a way it’s a shame as we may not be able to see some of their talent as it only 23 that can play. The All Blacks to a certain extent were taken by surprise by the intensity of the Wallabies, but the All Blacks are too good a side to be stunned for long. Man for man they are a world apart and are set to dominate world rugby for some time. In the interim, the other teams will only play catch up. As anticipated the scrum was an area of great interest and both sides were guilty of not being able to control the ball at their own put in. One of the main issues appears to be that the referee now indicates when the scrum half has to put the ball in. Gone are the days when a subtle tap, by the hooker indicates that he is ready. Thus the opposition can get their timing right in terms of the push as the side putting the ball in are most vulnerable at this point in time. In fairness to the referee he let the game flow and there were very little resetting of the scrum although on a number of occasions the scrum was not steady when the ball was put in. Whilst the scoreboard may not be indicative of the actual state of play, the Wallabies were always in the hunt. Their style of play was very different with their willingness to spin the ball wide at every opportunity. Whilst Quade Cooper came in for his routine share of booing he did not let it affect this game, in fact I thought he thrived on it. His goal kicking was perfect as was the case with Cruden. Cooper played his unpredictable game and combined well with his Reds team mate Genia. He has now built up a partnership with Israel Folau, and outside centre, Tevita Kuridrani. Thus they were able to play to their strength which is good quality front foot ball. James Horwell had a poor game and should David Pocock return soon, he may be out of the captaincy and a test spot as well. On the other hand Read has a super game as well and his now uncanny ability to be out wide as the All Blacks do not commit many to the break down has made him a try scoring option. Good teams revolve around good leaders. The All Blacks have McCaw and, in his absence, Kieran Read who must now be regarded amongst the top New Zealand No. 8s to have donned the jersey. The Wallabies are struggling in this aspect. What makes the All Blacks such a potent side is the oft asked question? Is it their attacking game, their superlative defence and their ability to convert mistakes of the opposition into a scoring option or is it their general overall ball skills? The question is best answered by two incidents in the weekend’s game. The first was the running line of Israel Dagg who bamboozled the defence and caught the Wallabies napping and thus got a try. What was interesting was the line that he ran from being very deep and with the attackers and the defence stacked up to his right he ran left. The pass that he received was perfect as he was in full flight when he got and the rest was history. The second was the break made by Tevita Kuridrani. Nonu was so far behind but the speed with which he turned and gave chase was awesome. More so the line that he ran as he well aware that Kuridrani had to cut inside to beat the last line of defence. The game is worth watching for the second time if only for those two moments. The Wallabies return to Australia for a quick rest before heading off for Europe. There were enough encouraging signs to indicate they may have learned something positive from all this recent games but a lot of work is yet to be done and only then can we hope to see coach McKenzie smiling, something he did in the past with the Reds. In the interim the All Blacks will remain a potent side. (The writer can be reached via [email protected])

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