- Abs vs Welsh Dragons
- Millennium Stadium (roof closed)
- Bloody early Sunday 24th November (NZDST)
- Final Score 43-17 (9-10 half time)
Picture, if you will, a team of players well and truly categorized as not the best ABs team ever, but certainly as good as you could manage after a long year. Place this team in the situation where they have a 1 loss, 1 draw record against two strong and traditional rivals.
Add to this much gnashing of teeth, and some belligerent media rhetoric, both locally and back home.
Next allow this team the opportunity to play another traditional, but not so strong rival. An opportunity which, if handled well, could result in a sound whipping of the aforementioned rival.
Finally note that such a result probably will not surprise or alarm either the team, their rival or commentators (armchair or otherwise). Indeed this “whipping” is an outcome that verges so close to the “expected” that the team would be very silly not to do their utmost to ensure that it does happen!
That’s what awaited the ABs as they arrived in Cardiff. That, and a pitch that looked somewhat like overgrown moss rather than the more traditional grass. Not that there aren’t precedents of rather dodgy playing surfaces, one might recall the sand-pit offered by a certain stadium in Australia, or found memories of body surfing tries in New Zealand.
But in this case I guess that it has something to do with that infernal game association football. These round balls apparently bounce in nice regular ways, but not so predictably on a bumpy surface. It can be rather embarrassing to be aiming to kick said spherical ball only to have it bounce above your foot causing you to miss, strain your leg, and most likely fall over. Not too good for your hero status overall, unless you are particularly like the idea of being Arse-over-tit man!
All of this is means that the grounds keeper is required to have a nice flat turf with the green part mown to within a millimeter of its life.
Run over that a few times with 30 uncouth, over-muscled and under intellectually endowed young men / women (in a climate more suited to mushrooms, but without the warmth) and you end up with Millennium Stadium!
But of course this was of only a moment’s consternation, as the game got underway and before you knew it the ABs were down the Welsh end of the ground doing their darnedest to score, firstly a kick through for Dougie, and then the ever popular “forwards crash over in a big pile” move.
Unfortunately neither actually got us any points, but it was certainly a fantastic start.
About this time - or at least after a certain lock in Red scored an against the run of play try - it became obvious that the Welsh forwards were made of much the same stern stuff that was experienced by all Southern Hemisphere teams in November.
Eh-gads! What is the world coming to? I mean isn’t it enough that the European forwards are traditionally tough and capable, did they have to become mobile and skilled as well?!?
I guess that will teach us for exporting coaches!
The game see-sawed quite a bit more and turned into a bit of a kickers benefit. Before half time both had managed to both kick and miss, nudging the score up to a mighty 10-9 lead to Wales. How they must have been singing in the Valleys!
I’m pleased to note that we were indeed in the lead (12-10) when Tane left the field injured. Since we never lost the lead after that, I guess that means that he has actually captained the ABs to a victory now, which must be a relief. His record was hovering dangerously in the same region as Danny Morrison’s number of “ducks”.
(I won’t mention the penalty try, not because it wasn’t absolutely fair, but because it would force me to mention the amazing number of times the ball sprang out of our ruck - seemingly as if it had been played on the ground by a person wearing red - so as to make Devine’s day just a little bit harder! And we wouldn’t want to mention that because both incidents whilst being completely acceptable “clever rugby-forwards tricks”, they are also utterly unsporting and the reason that so many non-players are non! )
Young Benji got broken, and the back line started to look like it a run-on selection of our Auzy mate Eddie Jones. Regan King’s time at centre was over, shoved out to right wing, where in said Auzy side he would have been doomed not to score his debut try.
But this is an ABs team, so the ball went wide and young Regan got a great pass from Tana to put him in the clear. He had the decency to look bashful about the whole thing, and another understated All Black moment was shared by emotionally deprived New Zealand males everywhere!
So thanks for that Wales, good try but not good enough.
And yes that is the best All Black team around, ever…
Boody little beauties!