A Hong Kong Classic: NH Look Out

31 10 2010

What a game yesterday in Hong Kong! A last gasp win for the Wallabies; an end to fifteen straight wins in a row for the All Blacks; and a result that alternately makes us nervous and excited about the Autumn Internationals coming up.

Australia, as they have done several times this year during the Tri-Nations, came out strong and firing on all cylinders. Indeed for the opening 30 minutes the AB’s only touched the ball a handful of times as the Australians heaped on the pressure. Tellingly, and importantly for the end result, the Wallabies managed to open up a 12-0 advantage during this time due to some excellent all round play. Worryingly though, on the few occasions the AB’s did have the ball, Nonu and friends broke the Australian first line defence with such ease that, even with the game seemingly going the way of the men in yellow, we feared for their long term ability to withstand the Kiwi onslaught that would surely come.

And come it did. After some pretty dreadful misses with the boot from either side, a goal line bundle from Cowan and a move of such simple brilliance that led to Corey Jane going over in the corner meant that suddenly the Australians were behind. Compounded thereafter by a Carter penalty and a further Nonu try; the Compulsive Hooker felt that it was only a matter of time before the All Blacks stepped up a gear and turned the match into a rout. Through a combination of hitherto unknown Aussie grit and Stephen Donald the Australians pulled the game back until, as a final coup de grace, James O’Connor provided the final plays of the game by scoring out wide on the right and then calmly converting the kick.

A brilliant game from an Australian’s and a neutral’s perspective – perhaps not so much for the New Zealand supporters, yet, even so – this was running, attacking rugby at its best. For Australia Pocock was brilliant around the breakdown, Kurtley Beale belied his clown status (two horrible penalty kicks aside) by demonstrating exactly why Robbie Deans has such faith in him, Quade Cooper shone brightly in parts, and, even after some dodgy moments in the first half, the Australian pack held up in the scrum.

For the All Blacks McCaw was once more excellent, proving to be ridiculously strong with ball in hand as well as good on the floor; Nonu showed why Sonny Bill Williams’ time has not yet come, and Carter showed that he is virtually irreplaceable.

As English fans we are sometimes guilty of believing that any side wearing the All Black jersey would be unbeatable. Even if they turned up with a team of players no one had ever heard of and who had only picked up rugby the year before – we English would have some qualms. With that in mind we are particularly grateful to Stephen Donald being as he is a reminder that even the men in black can be fallible. The New Zealand team without Carter is an entirely different beast than the one with the great man and the last 20 minutes of yesterdays game will have given Henry and all fans pause for thought. A Carter-less World Cup would be a worrying thing for any AB’s fan and so it would not surprise us to see him wrapped in cotton wool as we approach the tournament next year.

We started this article by saying that this result has made us alternately nervous and excited for the upcoming tour matches against the northern hemisphere sides. Excited because with the All Blacks losing it has reminded us that they are beatable. Nervous because suddenly Australia appear to have picked up some grit which was noticeably absent during the Tri Nations tournament. Previously guilty of looking good and then fading; the Australians look like the real deal now and so a game that previously was the least of our worries (against the big three that is – all due respect to Samoa) is now looking more ominous.

We are going to do a full preview of each northern hemisphere’s sides chances over the coming days so we will not continue in any great depth here on this thread – suffice to say that, after this display of brilliant and attacking rugby, we believe it will be a tough few weeks for the men up north…

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2 responses

31 10 2010
Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog

It was a great match. As you rightly pointed out, it made a change for the Aussie’s to find something extra in the final 15 minutes. They are usually great for the first 20-30 minutes and then fade.

Donald’s contribution was less than impressive. But I do get the impression that this might just serve as a reminder to the All Blacks that they can’t get away with taking their foot of the gas in the final 10 minutes and that their next opponents might feel the backlash of this result.

1 11 2010
Bradders

Absolutely agree with you – slightly worried about that fact and that their next opponents are us….

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