New Haka But Same Old Problems
by Paul Waite
28 Aug 2005
The good news: The All Blacks unveiled a new haka which raised the hairs on the back of the neck, and they won the test match.
The bad news: They showed everyone how to win a test by 7 tries to nil, whilst conceding 27 points – something hitherto considered impossible.
Once the emotion and euphoria of what was at the time a great last-gasp win has boiled away, we are left with the cold reality that the All Blacks gave away two utterly dumb and unnecessary tries last night, and should have won by a comfortable 15-20 points, instead of nearly losing.
And that’s being generous over the blunder by MacDonald which led to his clearing kick being charged down by Januarie for a try.
South Africa are a tough proposition but are essentially a bunch of very motivated and energetic tree-kickers. They smack the shit out of the trunks and hope for some fruit to drop into their hands, where it’s greedily consumed in a flash.
For this season at least, they should have changed their team name to The Hyenas, such is the scavenging nature of their gameplan. They are a young side, and all this is obviously new and providing results, however next season it will be old and they will have to turn their minds to playing creative rugby if they are to keep on tasting success.
For the All Blacks, it was a frustrating mixture for fans of the men in black. The tight five were on fire, and the scrum was a brutal weapon that had the measure of the Bokke pack from the start, and had gradually turned them to pulp by the end. The fruits of this were seen in the final winning try which came from a wonderfully controlled maul, and Mealamu peel-off to drive over.
The lineout was also very solid, and didn’t miss a beat when Ryan came on for Williams near the end, showing we have some good test-level depth available. The predicted dominance of Matfield did not eventuate, and was a key factor in that it prevented South Africa dictating procewdings with the territorial game.
With the change in All Black tactics to drive the ball up the guts more, and close to the fringes of the ruck, the Springbok umbrella defence was also taken out of the equation, and gaps opened up consistently. Only committed Bok defence kept things intact, but Rokocoko twice broke through to score nevertheless.
But the negatives in the All Black game were plain to see. They are still bordering on the poor in making the right decisions in open play and still err too much towards throwing the 40-60 pass. The worst one of the night was when Jerry Collins, who otherwise had an absolutely outstanding 80 minutes, lobbed a gimme intercept to allow the Springboks to gain the lead and a sniff of victory.
Aside from poor passing options, there was the kicking from hand which was, to be kind, very ordinary. Apart from a few kicks, most went straight to a South African, and hardly any were chased to put pressure on the receiver.
Finally there was the cretin in the middle blowing the whistle. The IRB ought to dock him half his wages, because he only seemed to witness about 40 out of the 80 minutes of play – he missed that much of what was going on. Clearly out of his depth at this level, his decision-making was impossible to fathom at times, and from the point of view of an All Black supporter, just about every single dubious call went against the men in black.
The sooner we never see this idiot again, the better.