34 - 15 to New Zealand
So it's nearly a week since the game, and you're probably wondering why bother writing an article on the All Black vs Wallabies match. Well, for one thing, it was a great game!
An All Black victory is always sweet, but all Kiwis know what would have made it just a bit sweeter. Another try. Simple as that. Two things got in the between us and the try line. Superb aggresive defence combined with judicious infringing, professional fouls and slow down tactics. In the end this denied the All Blacks what looked to be near certain tries. You can't blame the Okkers though... We saw the same tactics employed by quite a few teams in the Super12. Though being one down on the try count was disappointing, the important thing to remember is that moral victories aren't recorded in the rugby yearbooks... Wins are.
Player of the game for me was actually an Australian. Daniel Herbert was stunning. He ripped through the All Black back line on more than one occasion with pace and aggression. He more than deserved the try he dotted down. On top of that, he made a heap of tackles. And not just any tackles. Twice he stopped Keese Meeuws reaching the tryline, taking him head on and stopping the big forward in his tracks. Ieremia would also have been over if Herbert hadn't combined with Giffin to shove him back. Look out for Herbert in games to come.
Probably the most impressive passage of play in the game was the first 10 minutes. The All Blacks launched an onslaught as soon as they touched the ball. Perfect passes, perfect ball control and support play had them steamrolling up the park and all but over the tryline in the first two minutes! A shellshocked Aussie team looked stretched and a little ragged, but to their credit they survived the withering attack. Only to give away an embarrassingly soft try as Joe Roff fumbled a pass from Gregan, and fumbled again... You know the rest of the story.
Finally some credit to two others who were on the park. First, Mehrtens who was outstanding with the boot yet again. Nine penalties slotted plus a conversion meant the Wallabies were punished for every indiscretion. If we forget the one or two tackles he might have missed, it was a near perfect performance. And lastly, Derek Bevan the ref. He still strutted round like a prize rooster, and as Martin Devlin of Radio Sport so aptly put it, "looked like Liberacé reffing rugby", but to his credit, I hardly noticed he was there. He controlled the game well, played advantage and wasn't overanxious with the whistle. I guess there are a few Aussies who'd disagree, but my response is, if you don't like the whistle, don't infringe!!!
Bring on the Boks!