By Justin Marshall
I wrote the other day about whether the Wallabies could find answers to being bullied up front by England in June. As it turned out, there was more to it than the pack and that was brought home by the All Blacks in Sydney.
The Wallabies coped okay in the scrum, but that good part of their game was hurt by an embarrassing lineout performance. The All Blacks capitalised on it and once again the difference between the two packs was evident. The skill and pace from the All Black pack was on a different level. The Wallabies tried to replicate that but got nowhere near it. One-off runners aren’t going to cut it and when they tried to be innovative, they didn’t challenge defenders.
In comparison, the All Blacks engaged defenders right up until the point of contact. When Australia tried variations, they did it from deep, which was far too easy to read.
It’s a big issue for Australia and there is more to it than just the forwards. The backs were guilty of not being creative enough. Losing Matt Giteau early didn’t help and Bernard Foley at first receiver was far too deep and left no space for threats such as Israel Folau.
Most importantly, they were poor on defence. They were disorganised there, backs fell off tackles, midfielder Tevita Kuridrani didn’t know where to turn and all up, they looked like a team that deserved to be beaten.
The All Blacks will be pleased with their performance. They dominated from the start and never looked threatened. It was very impressive to watch.
While every All Black played well, I was pleased in particular with what centre Malakai Fekitoa did. There was a bit of a debate about the midfield leading into this test and although Fekitoa didn’t make a lot of big breaks, defensively he was outstanding, and he combined well with Ryan Crotty in the first half. He also made a lot of good decisions with the ball in freeing up his outside backs.
For me, that was close to his best game for the All Blacks.
How do Australia bounce back? I think they have to be bold.
Coach Michael Cheika and assistant Stephen Larkham have to think “how do we throw something at the All Blacks that they haven’t seen?” I think they have to get wing Drew Mitchell back out there, as well as Quade Cooper.
Cooper doesn’t have a great track record in New Zealand but he’s unpredictable and he could cause problems in combination with Will Genia. The selectors also have to bite the bullet on David Pocock. He looked out of position at No8. They need to pick a specialist there and if it’s Wycliff Palu, then so be it.
Something has to change for the Wallabies – they can’t do at Westpac Stadium in Wellington next Saturday night what they did at ANZ Stadium in Sydney because they will get beaten by more.
Story By New Zealand Herald Sports