IRANZ Insight: All Blacks set the pace

The focus on execution under pressure continues, as the ABs continually raise the bar.

Waisake Naholo on his way to scoring one of two tries in Saturday’s test match against the Wallabies. Photo credit: Getty, via NewsHub

This was a wonderful test match (AUS v NZ) between two well-prepared and well-selected teams. At halftime, most of us would have thought it was anyone’s game, but the question for me was: would the ABs continue to push on with this game plan?

As fatigue plays its part, most teams are found wanting, and then mistakes are made. These mistakes are often game-turning, as the courage to attack wanes and play becomes less expansive, a ding-dong battle develops, and goal-kicking becomes the decider.

This was certainly not the case on Saturday night.

Post-match, it was easy for critics to note the Wallaby scrum and lineout were battling and it was just a question of how long they could continue to maintain their defensive intensity. And it was just a matter of time!

Brodie Retallick, to the delight of most rugby aficionados, was outstanding in the areas of winning possession at lineout, kick-off and tackle. His master class exhibition was topped off with a deft dummy and a try any centre would be proud of.

Kieran Read’s performance highlighted the gap between our world class No 8 and his heir-apparent.

This is a difficult draw for the Wallabies. In the toughest rugby competition in the world, it will be interesting to see if they get better, or whether they simply fade.