Sunday, August 03, 2008

Richie helps return belief to All Blacks

By GRANT FOX, RugbyHeaven
Sunday, 03 August 2008

A week's a long time in international rugby. And if you ever want evidence of Richie McCaw's standing in test rugby, I offer this match as compelling proof. Richie's return seemed to infuse the All Blacks with self-belief.

A different team turned up last night. They were hurting deeply from last week, and responded in the time-honoured All Black fashion. That was the critical lesson of a convincing victory which we should be celebrating today.

You have to turn up to play.

Richie personified that last night and his return kicked off a Domino Effect that overwhelmed Australia . The All Blacks were winning the battle of the advantage line. That meant they were winning the physical collision.

They were also winning the set pieces, in particular - and to our surprise - the lineout to almost embarrassing proportions for Australia.

With greater balance in the tactical approach, superior field position and a McCaw-inspired forward juggernaut, the kicking game of Dan Carter and Mils Miliania deprived the Wallabies of the game-breaking opportunities offered in Sydney .

The effort of the forwards could be noted in the dynamic sniping performance of Jimmy Cowan. It was no coincidence his performance was prefaced by quality cleanout of the opposition and crisp delivery of ball.

Fortress Eden has done the trick again and we are now set for a thrilling second half of the Tri Nations.

Now the All Blacks head to Cape Town for a critical away assignment against the Boks on Sunday week. They must remember last night's lesson.

Turn up, and you're in it.

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