Greg Growden October 30, 2009
The All Blacks are concerned the Wallabies will go on an all-out attacking blitz in tomorrow night's Test - but as far as Australian fans are concerned, it is a case of ''not before time''.
All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith enlivened the Japanese rugby community by indicating that the Test will be fast and free-flowing because the Bledisloe Cup has already been decided.
''Once the silverware has been won, it probably frees the game up a bit, and I expect this to be quite an open game, and I think it will have its challenges from a defensive coaching point of view,'' Smith said.
However, the reality is that for too long, as far as the Wallabies are concerned, trans-Tasman encounters have turned into ''no-try zone'' because they have struggled to penetrate the New Zealand defence, leading to years of grim battles.
The Wallabies boast only one try in this year's Bledisloe Cup series, and this is hardly a new phenomenon. Since the 2000 Sydney extravaganza when 10 tries were part of one of the most celebrated Bledisloe Cup matches, the Wallabies have scored just 38 tries in 24 trans-Tasman encounters, an average of 1.5 tries per Test.
During that period, the Wallabies have failed to get over the line in five Bledisloe Cup matches.
It also appears the Wallabies are finding it hard to score against most oppositions. Since Robbie Deans took over as Wallabies coach last year, his team has scored 52 tries in 23 Tests, an average of 2.3 per game.
This is the lowest average of the past five Australian coaches. Greg Smith's 19 Tests as Wallabies coach in 1996-97 yielded 61 tries at an average of 3.2, and Rod Macqueen's 43 Tests from 1997 to 2001 had 146 tries at an average of 3.4. During Eddie Jones's four-year reign, which spanned 57 Tests, the Wallabies scored 201 tries at an average of 3.5. He was followed by John Connolly, whose 25 Tests produced 93 tries (3.7).
These statistics are admittedly rubbery, especially for Connolly's era, as in 2006-07 the Wallabies had several enormous wins over minor nations, including two internationals against Fiji when they scored nine and seven tries, six against Canada, as well as a World Cup match against Japan, when the Wallabies finished with 13 tries. That bumps up Connolly's average.
Deans hasn't had the luxury of playing many minor countries, with virtually every Test involving the world's leading rugby nations - New Zealand, South Africa, France, England, Wales and Ireland.
Also Deans showed during last year's Bledisloe Cup series his team can actually get over the line, by scoring nine tries in the four-match series, but this year there has been a considerable slump.
However, earlier this week Deans pointed out that the Wallabies had scored eight Tri Nations tries this year, to the All Blacks' nine and Springboks' 10.
At least the Japanese are expecting something exciting. After early reports that only 20,000 tickets had been sold, officials are now forecasting a crowd of up to 40,000.