New Zealand defeated Australia 37-20 in Yokohama on Saturday to win the Bledisloe Cup 3-0. Liam Squire, Ben Smith, Riko Ioane and Beauden Barret scored tries for the Kiwis while Israel Folau and Naivalu scored for Australi. The All Blacks led 17-10 at the halftime but managed to score 20 more points in the second half.
Australia have not been able to win the Bledisloe Cup since 2009 and today’s loss was their third consecutive one against New Zealand this year. This Bledisloe test on a neutral soil also provided the All Blacks with an opportunity to get themselves acquainted with the playing conditions in Japan.
The Wallabies, however, continued to disappoint and their winning record under Michael Cheika is below 50% now. They cannot sack Cheika now as the World Cup is less than a year away. However, they should struggle against the likes of Ireland and England in the upcoming tests in November unless they do not change their playing style/strategy.
We would like to take a look at the 3 talking points from the match;
#1 New Zealand’s versatility in attack is unmatched:
The try scored by Beauden Barrett in the second half of the match is ample testimony to the above fact. He received the ball from a ruck and went to the tight side instead of the open side, which seemed to be the more viable option, exchanged passes with Ioane and ran virtually unchallenged to score the try.
Most of the players would have preferred to have gone to the openside and build phases gradually, but Barrett saw the opportunity through the opposite side, created space by passing the ball to Ioane and then left the Aussies dumbfounded with his run. He has now scored 7 tries against the Aussies in the last 3 tests. His through-the-legs try assist to Ioane was another classic piece of rugby that only the All Blacks seem to be capable of.
In addition to the above, the Kiwis also have the highest try scorer of international rugby in 2018 in the shape of Ioane and the best full-back in the world in the form of Ben Smith, who scored a try today. It should also be mentioned that Smith actually played as a winger today instead of being in his customary full-back position.
Moreover, the All Blacks can also afford to leave out players like Waisake Naholo and Ben Lam out of their playing eleven. Those players could walk into any other team on this planet. It is highly unlikely that any other nation in the world would be able to compete with the Kiwis in terms of attacking versatility in the near future.