Referee : Jim Fleming
Score : Australia 28 - NZ 7
Well weren't they bloody awful!!!!
I don't even know where to start....well actually I do. Drop Mika & Blowers. They both have that 'Seagull' Carter ability to disappear during the important games. Reuben Thorne offers so much more in that position it isn't funny. Robertson also has to be in the squad as well. It's that 'punch' that both those players provide that's sadly lacking from those 2 imposters. Hell, it would almost be worth seeing the Dorks win the NPC with the good players not playing in the tournament if it meant those two bozos weren't involved.
Up until halftime I thought Mehrts was having a great game. Apart from one stuff up, the ball he did get from our lackluster forwards he used brilliantly. However Hart did do the right thing subbing him. Things weren't happening so the change could've worked. Unfortunately Kellihar & Brown looked worse. The problems lay elsewhere.
As has been echoed elsewhere, this was the most lackluster performance by an AB side in living memory. At least last year you could point at terrible Auckland players & a pathetic coach. The coach is still there (the one constant?) but the players are now supposedly the best in the country. Their performance was a disgrace. The song should not be "Bless them all"......more like "Sack them all!".
Even though I hate to say it, Marshall's poor distribution is still a major weakness of this side. He puts Mehrts under an awful lot of pressure with that woefully slow pass. He normally compensates for that by running at the opposition or kicking the ball over the top to provide that variation. Alas both features of his game where missing on saturday night. As it was, Mehrts was almost catching the ball with David Wilson & the Aussie backline ready to tackle them. How the likes of Gibson can shine under that sort of service is unbelievable.
It was ridiculous that Gibson was subbed at halftime. Having a one dimensional player such as Ieremia at centre is fine, but at 2nd five? Rubbish! He lacks the pace & ball handling skills that Gibbo possesses. Gibson should have stayed with maybe Cullen moving to centre. Lomu made a big impact when he came on so Hart was correct there.
Out of the tight five, the only one to emerge with any credit whatsoever was Norm Maxwell. Even though our scrum looked solid it was the most lethargic game I've seen from the Otago front row. Tiredness can't be used as an excuse. Robin Brooke also did a good Mark Carter impersonation. Because no targets where set in the forwards Josh become ineffective, simply becoming a tackling machine. Randall also had a poor game with his handling skills & inability to change gameplans when things weren't working.
Basically the Aussies outmuscled, outthought & outenthused us in a game we should have been up for. Congrats has to go out to McQueen and his team.
I don't go along with the bag Jim Fleming theory. I actually thought he had a good game. When he penalised the AB's it was normally with good reason. He seemed fair to both sides so no-one should really complain.
It would be an understatement to say that this was a hugely disappointing game for the AB's. It puts our world cup aspirations back a good deal. Up until this game no-one could touch us. Now we're well and truely back in the pack. Any psychological advantage we had is gone.
In some ways it might be good for us. A wake up call maybe? Still doesn't excuse a disgraceful performance from a team which let the country down.