Congratulations to the All Blacks for a comprehensive victory against the arch enemy in the (supposed?) cauldron of Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Weren't they rather quiet? Nowhere near as fanatical as normal....that Afrikaan v's English thing was very evident. Percy Montgomery certainly got a hard time. You would hope the booing was because the Northern Transvaalians think Percy shouldn't be in the team because of form (& they think someone better should be there - like a Northerns player) rather than the fact he's of English descent. If it's the former then fair enough. Nothing wrong with provincialism. John Hart learned last year that Cantabrians WON'T tolerate a coach playing 'favourites' at the expense of the performances of the national team. If it's the latter then it's a sad reflection on South African society.
Now before I focus on the game I want to comment on Ed Morrison.
I think if the AB's where asked before the game if they would be happy to come out of such a hostile environment with a 16 point win....they would have said "Yip, that'll do me!".
Yet again Andrew Mehrtens had an absolute blinder! This man is now the undisputed AB all time first five. His all round play makes him a much better player than Fox.
He is a genius! His tactical play, his kicking, his goal kicking....he is indeed Mighty Mehrts!
Justin Marshall is another having a great season. He plays like an extra loose forward. His tackling, his sniping runs. It's great to see.
The fowards where again magnificent. The bok's where going to target Greg Feek as a weak link. No weak link there boy's! The scrum didn't miss a beat! Normy Maxwell is such a maniac....brilliant player. Glad he's a Cantab ex-Northlander! : - ).
Taine Randall's game & captaincy is beyond repproach. He's going to become an AB great. Josh continues to be a legend.
Totally out of character for me, but I have to give Hart, Brooke & Dowd a wee wrap. At the start of the season I thought Brooke's chances of staying in the AB's was virtually nil. He has picked his game up however & now deserves his spot. Dowd coming on to replace Meeuws was a significant moment in the game. Our scrum could've crumbled. It didn't. Well done to all concerned.
Just 2 things though....if Hart picks Xavier Rush in the world cup squad because he 'thinks' he could play hooker then he's a complete knob.....& Carlos Spencer should not be in the AB squad at the moment. Bruce Reihana should be. Reihana offers much more scope at wing & centre than Spencer ever could. We already have the 2nd best five eighth covering Mehrts in Tony Brown....so why is Spencer there? Hart playing favourites? I hope not.
The AB back three of Wilson, Cullen & Umaga is breathtaking....incisive speed, good option taking, good tackling...they have the lot! Cully even looked quite good at centre. I wouldn't like to see him there permanently though, because he still doesn't look to feed his outsides. But his running game is great!
Lomu should stay on the bench. He still gives the impression of being a tad lazy on attack & defense. Good impact player to crash it up, but becoming more & more one dimensionial.
To the bok's.....I thought they where awful! The area's where they said they'd attack the AB's they couldn't....they tried but simply weren't good enough. There backline continues to be nauseating. Joost made a huge difference, but Snyman's try was a bit lucky. They really didn't create alot apart from Joost's try. Gaffie Du Toit looks terrified of the AB's.
To be honest, the bok's had everything going for them before the game....they lack talent but I thought their passion would carry them through. I actually thought they had a great chance of winning. The fact they lost by 16 points at home shows their game isn't moving forward. Overwraught forwards & one dimensional backs (Joost the exception). They look in serious trouble leading into the world cup.
Bring on Aussie at STADIUM AUSTRALIA. 100,000+....: - )