A thorough defeat was handed our way this evening. But was it perfect? No. Granted, we didn’t win but we did show the world and most importantly the All Blacks, that they are in fact human. A good old-fashioned dose of pressure and these guys make mistakes. It’s true, I promise.
Not every pass landed, not every piece of set play was dominated. Fair portions of their points were handed to them on a platter courtesy of missed Wallaby opportunities. It was difficult to watch but also comforting. We had plenty of possession, we had plenty of go forward and we had, for once, ideas. Foley stood up and owned the number ten jersey and gave our attack some shape and direction.
I am extremely proud of the forwards we fielded tonight, all working together and giving us that front foot ball that is so hard to come by. I thought we held our own in the scrum and this was thanks to a mammoth effort from those boys.
The score line was far from flattering but up until that fateful moment halfway through the second half we were in with a chance. After a dismal start, two tries down in the first ten minutes, I thought we did well to get ourselves back in the game. We showed confidence in our attack and our backline started to work well. Folau was allowed to have a great game, the hard work of his teammates allowing him the time and space that makes him so dangerous.
There was a moment, a huge moment that tipped this game. When Speight’s try, which would have brought the score to 15-15 was disallowed, the Wallabies hopes were ended. The All Blacks usually don’t need an invitation, but here they had one. From that moment on they piled on the pressure, taking every chance they got to pile on points. Let’s just say by the close of the game the pile was quite a large one.
This ability to crush teams in the closing stages of games is what has made them so indestructible. Their fitness is unparalleled, there is an aura that surrounds them and they operate within a sphere of confidence. They have confidence in themselves to beat the man, they have confidence that their supporting player will be over their shoulder, ready to catch that miracle offload.
This confidence is not just felt by their opposition but also by officials. They tend to get the benefit of the doubt, as ‘everyone knows they are the best’. The most unbelievable aspect of their game was called out tonight by Matthew Burke. Their incredible defensive pressure is helped along by their collective and consistent efforts in being offside. They infringe as a pack and as such it goes unnoticed. Well, by some, and sadly, by those that count.
Our attention now turns to the Spring tour and I am feeling optimistic. I feel our side tonight was the best we have fielded this season and with more time together we could build a great team. One factor to give us all heart is we do not suffer alone. The colossal gap separating us from the All Blacks remains impassable for the rest of the world too. I remain hopeful that someday soon it will be us making that giant leap.