Sunday Aug 8, 2010
By Gregor Paul
Richie McCaw was in no doubt that he and most of his All Blacks team will physically pay today for one of the best defensive efforts he can remember.
When the detailed analysis begins this week, the All Blacks defensive work will receive a giant tick - there will be little to discuss other than to confirm the benchmark has been set.
Wallaby coach Robbie Deans summed up the performance best when he said: "The one thing they [All Blacks] do best is slow the ball down which allows them to bring their athleticism and organisation into play.
"It was a much better effort from us. We had position and possession but they denied us momentum which made it hard to convert that into points."
Deans noted how well conditioned the All Blacks are - suggesting that if any other team had been forced to defend for as long as the hosts last night, the Wallabies would have won.
It wasn't just conditioning that saved the All Blacks. It was passion and character. The pride was obvious and only a side that is united could have made as many tackles as the All Blacks did.
"It would be right up there," said McCaw of the defensive effort. "It was our defence that won us the game. It showed the character of the team tonight. There were some big hits out there and I know a few of the boys will be pretty sore [today]."
The organisation that Deans talked about was reflected in the way the All Blacks committed limited numbers to every breakdown. That allowed them to push bodies across the field and leave Will Genia with few running options.
Australia either had to go wide quickly or head back into the heavy traffic where the recycle would be slowed again.
It would be rare indeed for a team to have as much ball as the Wallabies and yet make such limited in-roads.
The Wallabies were pushed from one side of the field to the other, only rarely managing to progress in a straight line and get in behind the first line of defence.
While much of that was down to the quality of the All Black tackling and structure, the Wallabies, too, have to accept they are frustratingly loose at critical moments.
"If you aspire to beating the All Blacks, you have to play your hand when it presents itself," was Deans' observation. "And we weren't able to do that."
The clinical edge wasn't there again for the Wallabies, while the All Blacks created two chances and scored two tries.
Unless the visitors can find it, they will fall to their 10th consecutive defeat next month in Sydney. That should be all the motivation they need.