All Blacks 'promise' Wallabies some more hurt
REACTION: The All Blacks have one hand on the Bledisloe Cup after their victory over the Wallabies at the weekend, but left Eden Park knowing their grip was not strong enough to be sure of taking the series.
Had Australian kicker Noah Lolesio not endured such a nightmare performance – he missed five of seven shots at goal – the 33-25 result may well have been different.
Add to that a penalty count that was 18-9 against the All Blacks, and coach Ian Foster said there was plenty to work on before the second Test in Auckland next weekend.
“We should have done better, but it’s a Bledisloe Cup series and we’ve put a stake in the ground,” Foster said, expressing disappointment with the way his side opened and finished the game.
The All Blacks were resting on a 25-point lead when the Wallabies stepped up with a powerful finish that produced three tries in 12 minutes.
“Clearly there’s plenty to work on in those spells, but it’s the first Test in the Bledisloe and it was always going to be a massive Test,” Foster said.
“We were doing really well at 33-8 and then disappointed. We take a lot of pride in how we finish and we didn’t finish that well.
“But at the end of the day it’s one-nil and we’ll go into next week with a nice list of things to improve on.”
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High on that list is discipline, with Foster dismissing suggestions that the new laws governing the breakdown, which made their international debut in the Test, could have been a possible factor.
“There was enough there that was controllable by us, nothing to attribute to the new laws,” he said.
“If you’re offside that’s plain and simple and we’ve got to be better than that.”
After an error-strewn first half where the All Blacks turned with a 16-8 buffer, it took two pieces of individual brilliance from Richie Mo’unga to set the game alight after the resumption.
First, he elected to run when the All Blacks were defending on their line and sparked a length-of-the-field move with the ball passing through nine sets of hands before Reece touched down again.
A marginal forward pass ruled that try out but it showed what the All Blacks were capable of when things clicked.
Minutes later Mo’unga intercepted a long pass intended for Jordan Petaia and scampered 80 metres to score, with David Havili and Damian McKenzie adding further tries soon after.
But as quickly as the All Blacks turned on the style they switched off, giving Wallabies coach David Rennie a glimmer of hope that his side could threaten to break the All Blacks’ 45-match unbeaten run at Eden Park.
Rennie, who rated his side’s effort as “positive but still pretty disappointing”, said the park’s hoodoo reputation for visiting teams counted for nothing on the day.
“All this talk is about Eden Park and how tough it is to win here, but our mindset is we’re going to get two cracks at it and you’ve got to embrace that,” he said.
All it would take, added captain Michael Hooper, would be for the Wallabies to maintain pressure from the first whistle to the last.
“We’ve been finishing games strongly throughout this whole year,” he said. “We’ve just got to put it together for 80.”