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All Blacks Strong Finish Overruns Wallabies

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Richie McCaw looks to fend off the tackle of Australia's Nathan Sharpe. Pic: NZPA

It was a game the All Blacks had to win with a tough road trip to South Africa ahead. The 22 - 16 win was a fair reflection of the game. The All Black finishing strongly in the last 20 minutes.

Pre-match the Wallabies drew first blood with a resounding win in the anthem singing contest. I thought the choir in vampire capes was a nice touch. Almost expected them to be hanging around the touch lines during the game and fighting over the blood bins. The director made a valiant effort with skilful camera angles to show the All Blacks singing in reply. But after a close shot of two players singing and showing everyone at the ground but the All Blacks they gave up and revealed what we expected - virtually no AB's singing (who cares).

Don't know about you but Jimmy Cowan looked like he was thinking really hard - Quite disturbing.

It seemed like an eternity before the first penalty of the game, but it was only 30 seconds. This was the first of 23 penalties.  Even moderate conspiracy theorists could be a little cynical that Mr. Joubert's whistle blowing was going to make sure neither side had a chance of a four try bonus point. A lovely tone he achieved with his whistle though and wonderful choreography with his flowing arm signals. I wonder if he practices in front of the mirror?

A bungled 22 drop out and Berrick Barnes was in for a soft try. Giteau added the conversion. 7 nil 5 minutes gone. Shared penalties made it 10 - 3 after 14 minutes.

On 19 minutes the Wallabies butchered a try which may have cost them the game.

They got the consolation of a penalty 2 minutes later. 13 - 3. It was not looking good. The All Blacks were like the lonely hearts club when it came to tackling. "Oh I miss you - I miss you so much my little cutie fluffy wallaby". 

The Wallabies were using the wind well. The All Blacks were better in the srums. The Wallabies were better in the lineouts. The breakdown was about even. The Wallaby backline was a lot more cohesive and dangerous. I have to think all the way back to the Italian test since I have last seen an All Black backline running with the ball and so oviously looking bemused about what they are supposed to do next. 

Finally some hope in the 21st minute with Conrad driving close and offloading to Richie to score. Donald landed the conversion and 13 - 10 was looking very easy on the eye after such a poor start. Penalties were missed by both sides. On the last play of the half Donald broke well and only had to get the ball to Jane but managed to pass it to an Aussie instead. Probably justice. The All Blacks didn't deserve a half time lead.

So the second half began with the All Blacks having the breeze at their backs. Two dumb penalties in a row from Australia and the All Blacks found themselves in front for the first time after 44 minutes.

Hore and Tialata subbed for Franks and Mealamu. The Wallabies get a penalty straight after the kick-off and we are locked at 16 all.

Weepu on for Cowan after 57 minutes. Donald adds another penalty to put the All Blacks in front again. Read replaces So'oaialo. Normal penalty to Aussie after the restart but Giteau misses this time. 

The All Blacks are kicking for territory well and it pays off with another penalty to stretch the lead to 22 - 16 with 6 minutes to go. 

The All Blacks finished the game dominant in the rucks and mauls and in the end deserved their win.

With both teams having players coming back from injury, it was always going to come down to who got the most from their bench players.  

The Wallabies will be disappointed that they didn't nail their chances to put the All Blacks away in the first half. The 19 missed tackles by the All Blacks is testament to the skills of an Australian backline that is only going to get better. Thank you Piri for such an assured tactical display in the last 20 minutes to help close the game out.

Now we look to South Africa.  The All Blacks will be better for this hit out and will need to start strongly against a South African side who is hopefully a bit slow out of the blocks.



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