29 Aug

Battered in Brisbane – What Now?
by Paul Waite
29 Aug 2011

After the All Blacks ‘thumped’ the Wallabies at Eden Park I said that the score flattered them, and that but for a poor start and missed kicks it would have been very tight. The test in Brisbane proves that was correct, and our foe over the ditch are our biggest threat in this coming World Cup.

This test loss has been a wake-up call for the Men In Black, of that there is no doubt. They were bested up front by a country mile in the first half and despite a second half rally failed to reverse the situation. The parallels with RWC 2007 are all too painful to draw.

As it transpired this test was a fabulous example of what the All Blacks
will face at the sharp end of the World Cup, and was exactly the kind of
test which has been their downfall in past World Cups. The way they
were shocked into mistakes by a hungry and passionate opponent that had worked them out and
then, forced into playing catch-up rugby, failed to reverse the scoreboard was a
classic and all too familiar example.

Graham Henry couldn’t have provided a better build-up for his men if he’d had Robbie Deans on the NZRU’s payroll.

In previous World Cup years the All Blacks have sailed along garnering a series of easy wins, lulling themselves into a nice warm fuzzy state of superiority, and then run aground on exactly these rocks.

But the question on our lips now is "how will the All Blacks react?".

If I was writing this in the so-called ‘amateur’ era, I would be 100% confident that the All Blacks would, as one, silently take the loss to heart, work out what went wrong and then, in the return test visit a fury of power rugby on their hapless opponents, taking it to a much higher level of clinical rugby, and emphatically cleansing themselves of the loss.

Sadly we are in the professional era, and we have no such cast iron guarantees. Some players are in exactly the same mold as those of yesteryear, an example being All Black skipper Richie McCaw. But the squad also contains a newer type of player, as concerned about the latest playing contract negotiations by their managers, as they are about the old-school All Black ethos and traditions. So as a whole the reaction of the team, although it will definitely be close to the old style, will probably not be quite the same.

That said there is undoubtedly still a lot of mileage left in All Black tradition, and we can assume that they will be hurting enough as a group to come together, sort out with the coaches what went wrong out there, and bring the memories of that loss to a possible World Cup re-match against Australia.

That’s on the plus side. On the negative side the Aussies, as if they of all teams needed any fillip for their confidence levels, will now know (or think they know) that they can best the All Black forwards and shock us into stupidity with rush-umbrella defence. That means the rematch, if it occurs, will probably turn on what happens in the first 20 minutes, where the All Black forwards must deliver a lesson in hard rugby to their opposites. Nothing else will work.

So what of the details? Unfortunately the All Blacks also had injuries in this test. The good news is that Kieran Read’s ankle knock does not seem to be serious, and that is the crucial one. Slightly less crucial, but still important is the potential loss of Adam Thomson who was our fill-in No.6 and 7. His arm/elbow injury does seem to be serious which leaves us short in the loose-forwards before the World Cup starts.

Finally I would just like to mention the Australian defensive approach in this test. In a surprise tactic Deans had them operate a system often used to great effect on us by South Africa whereby they cut down the space quickly close in (rush defence) and had the outside backs come around infield in an umbrella formation further cutting down space.

This is effective against the All Blacks because they tend to operate their ruck ball in a fairly predictable way, getting the backs moving through midfield. Pressure the first-five and cut down the space out wider, and you cause hurried plays and mistakes which we saw on Saturday in abundance.

So there are two issues for The Three Wise Men to deal with here. The first and most important is to play with more variety from the ruck. It is simplistic but true, that if the opposition is unsure of how you are going to play from there, then they will be unsure of how to defend as well. This will force them to back off, or risk coming up too quickly and creating the opportunity for a line-break.

The variations are all well documented and no big secret. The halfback probing and kicking (with support runners to pressure the kicks), and well-drilled forward drives either striaght from the ruck or one or two out. Similarly kicking from first-five and (if you have a 12 who can kick) second-five to vary the point of attack. We have become too predictable.

Of course Ted might have us running the ball predictably just to stop his opposing coaches developing counter-measures, but I have tried this as a working theory for previous World Cups and found it wanting.

Generally the All Blacks play in World Cups as they are playing in the tests leading up to it and, apart from the odd worked backline move, that’s the way it stays.

So, having had any possible remnant of over-confidence smashed out of them in the humbling loss to a better team in Brisbane, the All Blacks had better do some serious work back at the drawing board in the last two weeks before it all kicks off.

Good luck boys.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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28 Aug

Game Stats: Wallabies v All Blacks, Brisbane, 27 August 2011
by Tracey Nelson
28 Aug 2011

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums etc.

Some notes on these stats:

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately.

Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’re nailing the ball carrier or you’ve stuffed it up!

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each TOTAL. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week: Vito for Read after 12 min, Williams for Thomson at 38 min, Toeava for Guildford at 53 min, Ellis for Weepu at 63 min, Hore for Mealamu and Afoa for Franks at 73 min.

Team: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Dan Carter, Zac Guildford, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Mils Muliaina
Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava

Points Scored NZ Aus
Tries 2 (Smith, Nonu) 3 (Genia, Samo, Beale)
Conversions Carter 2 Cooper 2
Penalties Carter 2/2 Cooper 2/3
TOTAL 25 30

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 8 1
Aus 7 0
TOTAL 15 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackler McCaw 2
Tackled player Toeava 1
Early tackle Nonu 1
Ruck entry Mealamu 1
Ruck leaving feet Read/Mealamu, Thomson/McCaw 2
Obstruction Toeava 1
TOTAL   7

Aus Penalty Offences
Tackler 1
Ruck entry 1
Ruck leaving feet 2
Offside 2
Scrum 1
TOTAL 7

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons Muliaina, Guildford(3), Thomson, Vito(3), Whitelock 9
Spilled ball Weepu 1
Pass to opposition Ellis 1
Ruck N/A 2
Tackle Thomson, Jane 2
Ran into own man Thorn 1
TOTAL   16

Turnovers Conceded by Aus
Knock-ons 6
Tackle 4
Kick into own player 1
Lineout 2
TOTAL 12

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle McCaw(3), Hore
TOTAL 4

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 47 20+27
Woodcock 33 9+24
Thorn 31 13+18
Franks 30 13+17
Vito* 30 8+22
Whitelock 28 8+20
Williams* 24 2+22
Muliaina 18 10+8
Melamau 16 7+9
Smith 10 3+7
Thomson 9  
Jane 6 4+2
Nonu 6 2+4
Guildford 5 3+2
Carter 5 0+5
Toeava* 4  
Afoa* 3  
Ellis* 3  
Weepu 3 1+2
Hore* 2  
Read 2  

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Mealamu 14 55
McCaw 13 45
Vito 12 49
Thorn 11 50
Franks 8 16
Woodcock 6 15
Williams 5 31
Whitelock 5 9
Afoa* 1 5
Read 1 6
Thomson 1 5
TOTAL 77 286

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Vito* 15 (7+8) 2 (1+0)
Thorn 15 (10+5) 1 (1+0)
Franks 11 (10+1) 3 (3+0)
Mealamu 10 (9+1) 0
Thomson 10 0
McCaw 9 (3+6) 7 (3+4)
Whitelock 7 (4+3) 1 (1+0)
Woodcock 7 (5+2) 0
Guildford 6 (5+1) 0
Smith 5 (5+0) 3 (2+1)
Jane 5 (5+0) 0
Williams*4 (0+4) 0
Weepu 4 (2+2) 2 (2+0)
Muliaina 4 (3+1) 1 (1+0)
Nonu 4 (3+1) 0
Hore* 2 3
Read 2 2
Afoa* 1 1
Carter 1 (1+0) 1 (0+1)
TOTAL 122 27

Missed and Slipped Tackles
McCaw 4
Thorn 2
Thomson 2
Carter 2
Guildford 2
Muliaina 2
Mealamu 1
Weepu 1
Nonu 1
Smith 1
Jane 1
TOTAL 19

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 8 8
Second half 5 5
TOTAL 13 13

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Thomson 4 4
Vito 3 3
Whitelock 2 2
Read 1 1
Williams 1 1
Quick throw 1 1

Aus Line-outs Won From
First half 5 7
Second half 4 4
TOTAL 9 11

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 3 3
TOTAL 6 6

Aus Scrums Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 2 4
TOTAL 4 6

21 Aug

Game stats: Springboks v All Blacks, Port Elizabeth, 20 August 2011
by Tracey Nelson
21 Aug 2011

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Some notes on these stats:

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately.

Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’re nailing the ball carrier or you’ve stuffed it up!

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each total. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week: Franks for Afoa at 51 min, Ellis for Cowan at 53 min, HOre for Mealamu and Weepu for Slade at 60 min, Afoa back on for Woodcock (blood) at 61 min and remained on for rest of game, Hoeata for A Williams and Vito for Messam at 69 min, Jane for Gear at 71 min.

Team: Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu (c), JOhn Afoa, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Adam Thomson, Liam Messam, Jimmy Cowan, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui, Hosea Gear, Isaia Toeava, Israel Dagg
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Jarrad Hoeata, Victor Vito, Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu, Cory Jane

Points Scored NZ SA
Tries 1 ((Kahui) 0
Conversions 0 0
Penalties 0 5/5 (Steyn)
Drop goals 0 1/2 (Steyn)
TOTAL 5 18

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 10 1
SA 7 0
TOTAL 17 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackled player Toeava 1
Tackler Whitelock, Thomson 2
Ruck off feet A Williams, Thomson 2
Ruck entry Thomson 1
Ruck hands Ellis 1
Offside   1
Scrum Front row, Thomson (bind) 2
TOTAL   10

SA Penalty Offences
Tackled player 1
Tackler 2
Ruck entry 1
Ruck off feet 2
Ruck hands 1
TOTAL 7

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 8
Pass to opposition 4
Spilled 1
Forward pass 4
Ran into own player 1
Tackle 6
Ruck 2
Lineout 1
Scrum 2
TOTAL 29

Turnovers Conceded by SA
Knock-ons 7
Ruck 2
Maul 1
Lineout 1
TOTAL 11

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle Whitelock
TOTAL 1

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
Whitelock 34 4+20
Afoa 23 10+13
Messam 21 13+8
Thomson 21 12+9
Woodcock 19 12+7
Mealamu 17 12+5
Kaino 17 8+9
Sonny Bill Williams 14 9+5
Ali Williams 13 5+8
Hore* 12  
Gear 10 7+3
Kahui 10 7+3
Hoeata* 8  
Franks* 7  
Vito* 7  
Toeava 5 3+2
Dagg 4 2+2
Weepu* 2  
Cowan 2 2+0
Ellis* 1  
Jane* 1  
Slade 1 1+0

Ball carries and metres gained No of carries Metres
Kaino 7 60
Thomson 6 50
Messam 6 30
Mealamu 5 18
Hore 3 3
Whitelock 3 17
Woockcock 2 3
Afoa 2 11
A Williams 2 10
Franks 1 4
Hoeata 1 4
Vito 1 4
TOTAL 39 214

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
Thomson 16 (9+7) 2 (1+1)
SB Williams 11 (8+3) 2 (2+0)
A Williams 10 (6+4) 1 (1+0)
Afoa 8 (5+3) 0
Kaino 8 (4+4) 4 (4+0)
Messam 7 (5+2) 2 (0+2)
Mealamu 7 (7+0) 0
Whitelock 5 (4+1 3 (1+2)
Woodcock 4 (3+1) 1 (1+0)
Toeava 4 (3+1) 0
Franks* 3 0
Gear 3 (2+1) 0
Kahui 2 (0+2) 2 (2+0)
weepu* 2 0
Cowan 2 (1+1) 0
Hore* 1 0
Hoeata* 1 0
Slade 1 (0+1) 1 (1+0)
TOTAL 95 19

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Kahui 4
Mealamu 3
SB Williams 3
Thomson 2
Woockcock 1
Whitelock 1
Kaino 1
Cowan 1
Ellis 1
TOTAL 18

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 9 10
TOTAL 14 15

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Whitelock 4 4
Thomson 3 3
Williams 2 3
Kaino 2 2
Woodcock 1 1
Quick throws 2 2

SA Line-outs Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 4 5
TOTAL 7 8

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 5 5
Second half 2 3
TOTAL 7 8

SA Scrums Won From
First half 2 2
Second half 7 7
TOTAL 9 9

19 Aug

Bill and Ben Flowerpot Men
by Paul Waite
19 Aug 2011

Count me as one of the surprised when I heard this week that there wasn’t just one Rugby World Cup trophy, but two. But it seems there are also two explanations of how they are used.

Like most I assumed that there was at least one replica of the Cup that the tournament organisers could use for promotional activities without worrying about loss or damage to the real one. However this week the following statement was made (see this NZ Herald article):

"As is common with other major sports tournaments, we have two trophies,
however only one is ever used at any given point in time," said
Tournament director Kit McConnell.

"Both cups are equal in stature. There is no original cup as such, they
are interchangeable and we don’t distinguish between the two. They were
both acquired before the first Tournament so share the same Rugby World
Cup history.

"Both have been used at past Tournaments and both have been in the hands
of winning captains and teams. They both represent the spirit of the
Game."

Well that sounds like bollocks to me. First of all, it’s obviously impossible for them to share the ‘the same Rugby World Cup history’. I didn’t see David Kirk, or any of the subsequent World Cup-winning captains holding up two cups, did you? No. So one of them was used and the other wasn’t, if we are to believe the above statement.

But wait. Tonight’s TV news had another story, also ostensibly emanating from the hallowed halls of Rugby World Cup Officialdom. This story goes differently. It tells us that the older William Webb-Ellis trophy (nick-named Bill) made in 1906 is the one that the skippers hold aloft and the team swigs champagne from, and then the victorious union gets to keep it for two years before it is returned for the final two years to IRB HQ in Dublin. For those last two years the replica (made in 1986) is swapped so the current holders still have ‘the Cup’ gracing their trophy cabinet.

Does it matter? Yes, in my opinion it very much DOES matter. Fans of this great game invest a huge amount of emotion into it, and when those of us fortunate enough to do so get a chance to touch or be photographed with the trophy we want to know that it is the one that Francois Pienaar et al proudly raised to the cheers of the crowd after the World Cup Final. Equally we want to know when we are only holding a replica.

In the immortal words of that classic movie Highlander, There Can Be Only One.

So I’m hoping that the first version of World Cup modus operandum is exactly what it sounds – a load of crap, and the second more plausible (and ethical) methodology is what happens.

So get your act together IRB, and desist with the conflicting stories which make you sound like you’re all smoking Little Weed.

Let the fans know where Bill and Ben really stand.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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19 Aug

3N Preview — All Blacks vs South Africa
by WAJ
19 Aug 2011

A desperate side v a relaxed side. An out of form side v an in form side. A best XV v a try out XV. There are lots of different ways to look at this game. I think the reality is a bit of everything and it throws up a fascinating game.

Let’s look at the various aspects of the game. Scrums – look pretty even, all 4 props have played little rugby of late so the substitutions will be interesting.

Lineouts – both have struggled a bit on their own throw of late, and with 4 extremely tall locks one or two might be nicked again, especially with the occasionally erratic Big Kev and The Battleship throwing. Could Thommo be the difference here?

The breakdown – this is the area which will dictate this game. Can the AB’s get the quick ball that they want to play with and move the still underdone Boks around the park. The Boks are going to hit this area hard physically to try and disrupt us – lets hope George Clancy has it under control.

Kicking – playing at sea level helps us out here, but you would think Steyn will still kick a lot so big games for the back 3. Slade has his first real test and I reckon he will go OK – he looks a cool customer and will kick less as we try to move the ball around by hand. But he needs to place kick well – a must do.

Backline – I really like the look of the AB’s backline – stacks of talent. The big question is can they gel, if they do it could be a great night. The Boks looked all sorts of stodgy last week – both on attack and defence. The quicker Aussie backs were able to get through or past them a number of times and if they ever threatened on attack I must have missed it. Well thats not true but they only ever threatened with the boot and those days are gone. Steyn in won’t help as he tends to drop back into the pocket but equally Lambie is a good in and will need to be watched. The Bok centres looked very cumbersome and they failed to bring their wings into the game at all. There will be an improvement but if we can maintain the defence of a fortnight ago then they will struggle again.

The big questions for me are how the AB loose trio will gel, and not so much how Thommo goes as an open-side but how they attack the breakdowns and defend as a unit. How rusty will the backline be? Not only from a combination point of view but all so match fitness and individual touch. I am backing the fitness staff here as the AB’s have always been superbly prepared conditioning wise. And lastly will we be able to withstand what will be an extremely physical and fericious start from the Boks without some of the hard heads and calm minds resting in NZ. The other side of that is whether the Boks will go over the top!!

I think we will be down early and our superior fitness will win over in the end.

AB’s by 1 – 12

Waj

17 Aug

A Stain On The All Blacks
by Paul Waite
17 Aug 2011

stainThe Telecom-sponsored official fan website for the All Blacks, ‘BackingBlack’ is about to launch what it thinks is a cool advertising campaign, called ‘Abstain for the All Blacks’ next week.

So all you school-kids from 5 years and up, show your support for New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup All Blacks and DON’T HAVE SEX.

What a piece of ill-advised, inappropriate, marketing masturbation this is. To me this looks like yet another case of what we rugby fans have had to put up with in the professional era. Namely, that the game is no longer ours and belongs to a bunch of corporates who employ marketing morons to come up with ‘ideas’ such as deafening us with FM Radio Dickhead at games, poisoning us with smoke effects, and assailing us with shitty bad-taste advertising campaigns like this one.

The fans don’t seem to have any control over things rugby any more. Jerseys are molested by ads and colours changed at whim by gear sponsors who think they own it because they supply them free and pay some money over. Don’t get me started on the Adidas debacle. Grounds with great tradition are renamed year by year, games played at night to suit breakfast advertising over the other side of the World, and schoolkids can’t even run sausage sizzles around World Cup venues on match day.

Apparently the NZRU is ‘backing’ this campaign, and former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick will be handing out black rubber rings, which are (apparently) meant to be slipped over the fingers of abstainers. All jolly good, friendly, family fun. Not.

Telecom Director of Marketing Kieran Cooney says it was intended to be ‘tongue in cheek’. No, Kieran, it’s ‘head up arse’.

Auckland University senior marketing lecturer Tom Agee has a slightly different take on it. ‘I’m gobsmacked. The idea behind the campaign is to get some attention
and to get some talk, but I can’t believe anybody would participate in
that’ (from this Stuff article).

Next I’m waiting for the negative reaction from the fans and general public, which will be inevitably followed by a raft of self-justification from Telecom, citing some non-existent ‘market research’, some backing off from the NZRU, and finally the campaign being pulled.

At least that’s what should happen, and I hope it does.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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8 Aug

GAME STATS: All Blacks v Wallabies, Eden Park, 6 August 2011
by Tracey Nelson
8 Aug 2011

The usual analysis of the All Blacks game, being the First 3 to the Breakdown, tackle stats, penalties conceded, turnovers, the lineouts, and scrums.

Some notes on these stats:

First Three to the Breakdown stats are looking for those players who are getting to the tackle/breakdown quickly and are also being useful by either cleaning out opposition players or setting up ruck ball. Anyone arriving and just leaning on the ruck isn’t included, so there are times when I will only tally one or two players. Likewise, if four players arrive simultaneously and perform a clean-out and setting up of a ruck, I will include all four in the stat.

Completed Tackles means that player actually brought the ball carrier to ground (ie. as the Laws of the Game actually described the tackler), not assists in the tackle situation which are tallied separately. Missed tackles also includes slipped tackles where the ball runner gets away. Most importantly, I do NOT included slipped tackles in the Tackles Made stats, it gets noted as a missed tackle. Either you’re nailing the ball carrier or you’ve stuffed it up!

Numbers in brackets are the first half/second half breakdown for each total. An asterisk denotes a player that came on as a substitute. This week: B. Franks for Crockett at 49 min, Slade for Nonu at 55 min, Hore for Mealamu and Ellis for Weepu at 59 min, Whitelock for A. Williams at 65 min, SB Williams for Sivivatu at 68 min, Thomson for Kaino at 70 min.

Team: Mils Muliaina,Sitiveni Sivivaut, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Daniel Carter, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (c), Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett
Reserves: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Sam Whitelock, Adam Thomson, Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Sonny Bill Williams

Points Scored NZ Aus
Tries 3 (Nonu, Mealamu, Sivivatu) 2 (Ioane, Elsom)
Conversions Carter 3 Cooper 2
Penalties Carter 2/2 O’Connor 0/3
Total 30 14

Penalties/Free Kicks Conceded Pen FKs
NZ 7 1
Aus 8 0
Total 15 1

NZ Penalty Offences
Tackler O. Franks, Smith 2
Ruck entry McCaw (2), Mealamu 3
Scrum Crockett 2
Total   7

Aus Penalty Offences
Tackled player 4
Tackler 2
Scrum 2
Total 8

Turnovers Conceded by NZ
Knock-ons 6
Poor pass 3
Forward pass 1
Tackle 3
Ruck 3
Lineout 3
Total 19

Turnovers Conceded by Aus
Knock-ons 5
Poor pass 3
Forward pass 1
Tackle 5
Ruck 1
Maul 1
Lineout 2
Total 18

Tackle turnovers won by NZ
Tackle Carter (2), McCaw(2), Slade
Total 5

First 3 to Breakdown Total Per half
McCaw 35 16+19
O Franks 29 14+15
Mealamu 24 13+11
Thorn 24 14+10
Crockett 16 14+2
Read 18 8+10
Kaino 15 9+6
A Williams 13 9+4
Nonu 9 9+0
Muliaina 8 6+2
Hore* 7  
Carter 7 5+2
O Franks* 6  
Whitelock* 6  
Thomson* 6  
Smith 5 2+3
Slade* 3  
SB Williams* 2  
Gear 2 1+1
Sivivatu 1 1+0
Weepu 1 0+1

Ball caes and metres gained No of carries Metres
Read 8 61
Mealamu 6 14
Thorn 6 40
O Franks 5 28
McCaw 5 26
A Williams 4 14
Kaino 4 47
Crockett 3 8
B Franks* 3 7
Total 44 245

Completed Tackles and Assists Tackles Assists
McCaw 18 (12+6) 5 (3+2)
Kaino 12 (10+2) 4 (3+1)
Carter 12 (9+3) 3 (2+1)
O Franks 12 (7+5) 3 (2+1)
A Williams 12 (8+4+) 1 (1+0)
Smith 12 (6+6) 1 (1+0)
Crockett 11 (10+1) 3 (3+0)
Read 9 (7+2) 0
Mealamu 8 (7+1) 0
Thorn 7 (6+1) 0
Weepu 6 (6+0) 1 (1+0)
Ellis* 4 0
SB Williams* 4 1
Nonu 4 (4+0) 0
Hore* 3 0
Sivivatu 3 (3+0) 0
Thomson* 2 1
Muliaina 2 (1+1) 1 (0+1)
B Franks* 2 0
Whitelock* 2 0
Slade* 2 0
Total 147 24

Missed and Slipped Tackles
Carter 2
Nonu 2
Hore* 2
Crockett 1
O Franks 1
Thorn 1
Kaino 1
Read 1
Gear 1
Sivivatu 1
Muliaina 1
Ellis* 1

NZ Line-outs Won From
First half 6 6
Second half 6 9
Total 12 15

NZ Line-out Jumpers Won From
Read 4 4
Thorn 3 4
Williams 3 5
Whitelock 1 1
Quick throw 1 1

Aus Line-outs Won From
First half 7 7
Second half 2 4
Total 9 11

NZ Scrums Won From
First half 4 4
Second half 4 4
Total 8 8

Aus Scrums Won From
First half 3 3
Second half 3 3
Total 6 6

7 Aug

Bledisloe Cup Safe
by Paul Waite
7 Aug 2011

The most important outcome of last nights test at Eden Park was that the All Blacks achieved their first major goal this season: to make sure that the Bledisloe Cup could be safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet. With that in mind let’s look at the rest of the game, and how the World Cup preparations are going.

There is no doubt that the final score of 30-14 flattered the All Blacks. In the first half the Wallabies failed to pick up an easy 9 points through missed kicks, and possibly blew a try. The 17-0 deficit at half-time could have been a more competetive 17-9 or even 17-all, which would have put a different complexion on the second half.

In the first quarter there were times that the All Blacks looked terribly vulnerable against the shear efficiency and inventiveness of the Aussie ball-recycling machine. The defence kept the score to Nil, but quite how that happened was not clear.

But, as the coaches pointed out in the press conference after the test, the All Blacks brought a ‘we will not be denied’ attitude to this game, and that ran through the whole team. It was that hunger and heart which made the difference in the end.

Standouts in Black were, in no particular order, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, Dan Carter, and the loose-trio of Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, and Jerome Kaino. DC kicked everything from the tee right down the middle, and was a monster in the tackle. Our midfeld was rock solid, with Smith tackling like a demon, and Nonu a defences’ nightmare on attack. The loosies were literally in everything.

So they played with guts and heart, and won the first important trophy of the year 30-14, but this being World Cup year we have to look at what wasn’t so good as well.

This was only the second outing together, however an All Black team should not be allowing their ruck ball to be turned over the number of times it was in the second half. Later on, poor support at the ruck was mainly to blame, however the first big turnover resulted from a series of badly executed pick-and-goes from the forward pack, and directly gave away the Wallaby’s first try. Quite what the forwards were trying to prove I’m not sure. Each pick and go resulted in an immediate collapse and an inevitable frantic scramble to retain possession. That happened 3 or 4 times before the surprised Aussies finally understood they were being handed the ball, and gratefully took it to scamper down the touchline and score. Definitely a “work-on” that one.

Set-piece was another worry, with both scrum and lineout looking a wee bit shaky. Crocket seemed to struggle at test level, conceding a few free kicks as he collapsed. When Franks replaced him things were much more solid. At lineout time it was good to see us attacking their ball, and on our throws we had reasonable success but mistakes were made and generally it didn’t inspire enough confidence. In both cases we have the knowledge to fix the issues, though previous seasons with the lineout have shown that this can sometimes take longer than it should. Steve, you have a month for both.

Probably the most important area to improve on was the defence. As mentioned above it looked good on paper in the first half with that Opponents: Nil statistic, but the missed tackle stats showed a different story. The Wallabies were allowed to run that bit too far, and make too much ground as we struggled to keep adjusting our defensive lines and react to changing points of attack. By comparison, when we were on the ball, the Aussies could shut us down far more quickly in each phase, the difference being we punished the few errors they made with points and they didn’t. Clearly work needs to be done to close down that 2-3m of room we are currently allowing. If the Wallabies can do it to us, we can do it to them.

Reference was made by the All Blacks in the after-match conference to some of the team ‘running out of petrol’ towards the end. That would go a long way to explaining some of the turnovers due to lack of support at the ruck. It will also fix itself as the 3N goes on, so for now let’s not get too hung up on that area of deficiency.

I’m not counting the Fiji ‘test’ when I say that overall this match was a typical second hit-out of the test season. A huge step-up from the first one against the under-strength Boks, a lot of blemishes counter-balanced by a lot of hard physical effort and a great gutsy attitude, netting a good win.

So the All Blacks look to be on track for the World Cup. There are a lot of things to fix, but the number of those and the amount of improvement required are all pretty much as expected. The away tests in South Africa and Australia will provide a chance to iron these out.

Finally I’d like to make a plea for teams to stop selling things which don’t exist to gormless sponsors.

The Australian National Rugby Team is called “The Wallabies”. Not “The ACME Sports Emporium Wallabies”, or “The Quaint Arse Wallabies”, or whatever.

Listening to a nasal Aussie accent gabbling through a seemingly endless list of people fronting up at the press conference, and prefixing them all with “The Quaint Arse Wallaby (Captain|Coach|Vice-captain…)” isn’t going to make me choose to fly Quaint Arse. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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