The full-time report is in, which means it’s probably time for me to make a cup of tea and stretch my legs. Thanks for joining me today for a much more characteristic display from the All Blacks and a tantalising glimpse at how special Caleb Clarke is going to be. See you next time.
“Pretty sweet after the disappointment of last week,” says Sam Cane, “we had pressure this week.” Cane then concedes Australia were hard done to on the scoreboard but “we didn’t make any mistakes in that ten minutes” after half-time when the All Blacks tore the game open.
And there was a special mention for the latest wunderkind, Caleb Clarke. “Caleb’s a special kid. He’s an absolute pleasure to watch with ball in hand.”
“I thought we threatened really well in the first half” says Michael Hooper, face covered in blood. “But New Zealand were really good on the counter, really good in turnovers.”
“We’ve had a great time together, we’re building nicely,” he adds. “We’ll regroup, we’ll take a breath and we’ll go again.” The next two contests on Australian soil should be worth tuning in for.
Ken Matheson has emailed in. “There was a real legacy and heritage feel to this game, Caleb Clarke being the son of Eroni Clarke, Umaga-Jensen of course related to the great Tana, plus the Barrett bros who are sons of a previous Taranaki 167-game icon, Kevin.”
Clarke was terrifying! 21-years-old, built like a prop but with the speed of an outside back. He is going to annihilate defences for a decade and it will be thrilling watching him.
Rennie has set a platform, that’s for sure. The Wallabies were second best today but the commitment to take the game on was there. With more time in camp to develop cohesion, and home ground advantage, you’d expect greater threat in possession.
New Zealand 27-7 Australia
The All Blacks were just too good today. The Wallabies gave their all but made far too many errors, with and without the ball. New Zealand’s defence was awesome and by the second half it was practically operating as an offensive weapon.
79 mins: Scrappy from both sides now with fatigue setting in and the jeopardy of the result long gone. Australia continue to run from everywhere, but it is kamikaze stuff as gold jersey after gold jersey is swallowed by the creeping black abyss.
77 mins: Solid scrum from Australia on halfway, but as the gold jerseys run and spread Koroibete fumbles and the move breaks down. He’s had his share of errors the big No11.
75 mins: Knock-on New Zealand so Australia run from deep with the advantage. But yeah, you know the script, it’s like those massive jaws that crush rubbish at landfills, an ominous black wall just forcing everything in its wake in the opposite direction.
“Player of the match,” emails Patrick Coleman., “should be the ref - he’s had a really good game.” Agreed! Let’s hope we don’t endure another tedious week of carping (from either side).
74 mins: New Zealand scrum just inside their own half, and it earns them a penalty. Barrett hammers the ball towards Australia’s 22.
73 mins: Copy and paste. Australia win a free-kick from their scrum feed but the pattern continues of runner after runner thudding into contact no further downfield than where the move began. Inevitably there’s a loose carry and a turnover.
72 mins: Australia continue to run with gusto, every man in gold a willing ball carrier, but time and again they hit a black wall, and in the case of Hanigan, finding his considerable frame belted back towards his own posts. There hasn’t been the individual brilliance or the combinations to wrongfoot this New Zealand defence.
70 mins: Safe lineout on halfway from the All Blacks then some conservative but industrious forward play pushes them incrementally over the gain line through the middle. Eventually they go through hands to the left win where the sub McKenzie cuts in to take advantage of the angle across the defence until he’s brought down 10m from home. New Zealand can’t secure the breakdown though and the Wallabies clear.
68 mins: 21-year-old Caleb Clarke jogs off to a standing ovation. That was a heck of a run-on debut from the little tank.
67 mins: New Zealand win the lineout but Australia are all over them at the breakdown with Uelese busy. Mo’unga kicks clear but Australia get the lineout on the 22 and build quickly from right to left. But yet again for all the passing and catching the gain line is barely crossed and play fractures with the ball hitting the turf first on the right edge, then the left. Eventually the All Blacks find the turnover and slow the play right down.
65 mins: Australia enjoy a long spell of possession, but their running lines are deep and the All Black defence is stout meaning for all the grunt work the gain line barely moves from halfway. Eventually the Wallabies kick to the corner with Jake Gordon showing some clear thinking.
62 mins: From the kick downfield and the lineout the exciting Petaia hits the line hard to gain some momentum for Australia but there’s a loose carry soon after and play grinds to a halt. After that frenetic start to the half there’s now a scrum-dominated lull.
60 mins: Australia up to 37 missed tackles now, to New Zealand’s 13, as a scrum sets and resets near halfway. There are plenty of subs in those packs now and the referee is keen to ensure safety. Eventually Australia, with the feed, are awarded a penalty.
59 mins: Perenara, on as substitute, exploits the few inches available on the blindside to sprint down the left wing. His kick and chase is almost taken by Taylor but there’s a knock on and Australia clear. It’s an open frenetic game of rugby.
57 mins: The Wallabies are not going to die wondering. They run and run and run, phase after phase, swooping and straightening like spring magpies. Koroibete almost bursts through on the left edge, Paisami on the right, but it’s all individual and the support runners are not on hand to turn a huge surge into points.
TRY! New Zealand 27-7 (Cane 54)
New Zealand’s forwards rumble downfield to halfway before Smith box kicks. Daugunu takes it spectacularly but Australia fail to string phases together and the All Blacks are back in possession with broken field advantage. The rest is like a hot knife through butter. With gaps everywhere, Smith marshals runner after runner through holes, recycling play briskly until those holes are chasms and Tuipulotu feeds in Cane to jog under the posts.
Mo’unga finally makes a conversion.
53 mins: Play goes back to an Australian scrum 10m out on the right wing. The Wallabies take no risks then pick and drive, inching their way to the line. And the ball is touched down! The try is awarded on-field but sent upstairs where the TMO determines a double movement from Paenga-Amosa scurrying through the maul. Tough break for Australia.
51 mins: Can the Wallabies hit back quickly this time? They start promisingly with O’Connor, Hooper and Daugunu all gaining yards at speed through the middle and splintering off to the right edge. The ruck forms on the right wing from where Australia recycle the ball to the left wing where Koroibete storms 1-1 and bundles his way over the line! But he’s held up. Superb feed in the build-up by young Petaia but Koroibete could not earn downward pressure with two New Zealanders on his back.
TRY! New Zealand 20-7 Australia (Savea 47)
Oh my, that might be one of those moments in international sport. Caleb Clarke collected the high kick uncontested 10m inside his own half. By halfway he was already carrying the force of a runaway Mac truck. Ten metres later he’s left gold jerseys in his wake, busting tackles, hitting the turf then getting straight back up like the Terminator ready to bust some more tackles. By the time Clarke’s at the 22 it’s just a matter of when the All Blacks send the ball through hands. They do so with composure to the left until Savea capitalises on the overlap.
Mo’unga will be disappointed with a poor conversion miss.
47 mins: Not this time. The first lineout steal of the day is poorly timed for the Wallabies and the All Blacks clear to halfway.
46 mins: From the restart Hooper is industrious at the breakdown to earn a penalty, allowing Banks to kick to the corner. Good chance for the Wallabies to hit straight back.
TRY! New Zealand 15-7 (J Barrett 43)
Clarke, Savea, then Coles all puncture holes in Australia’s defence. The ball heads wide where Mo’unga shows great invention to keep the play moving. The All Blacks have a head of steam, crossing the gain line repeatedly. Surely they score here. There’s space wide on the right, it’s just a matter of process to get it there. And they do, Jordie Barrett completing the routine manoeuvre. Questions will be asked about Australia inviting so much pressure on themselves from the kick-off. But still, that was a fearsome series of phases from New Zealand.
Mo’unga strikes the upright from the conversion attempt.
41 mins: Australia secure the kick-off and take the risk of spinning the ball from left wing to right through hands before White is resigned to the box kick.
The teams are back out for the second half.
I have to agree. That was a much sloppier half of footy from the Wallabies who were ragged at times in defence, imprecise with crucial passes to the outside backs, and poor once more at the attacking breakdown. That said, they continue to take the game on in possession, kicking only when absolutely necessary, and despite 24 missed tackles and some serious pressure from the All Blacks the defence has stood up with a vital turnover or tackle when it’s mattered.
New Zealand have looked more like their old selves today, dominating set pieces and looking to run much more than in Wellington. There’s still a lack of cohesion though and it’s only been when Barrett or Clarke have found a yard of space that they’ve looked especially threatening.
Half-time: New Zealand 10-7 Australia
A scrappy but fiercely competitive half comes to an end with just three points in it.
39 mins: Scrum to New Zealand on their 22 turns into a penalty after substitute Hodgman outmuscles Tupou.
39 mins: The Wallabies have missed 23 tackles to New Zealand’s 10, but they’ve shown great desperation to paper over the cracks.
38 mins: Australia kick to halfway then run, first to the left - where Koroibete is smashed, then to the right, where Paisami breaks the line and ups the ante. The ball goes back to the left where there’s space but Koroibete can’t capitalise and New Zealand recover.
36 mins: It’s a scruffy lineout that Australia almost pinch but the All Blacks scramble. From 15m out under the posts New Zealand pick and drive, punching small holes in the Wallabies defence, but there’s no momentum, and eventually Hanigan is too strong at the breakdown and forces the turnover. Huge moment for Australia. New Zealand had numerous opportunities in a long attacking phase but the visiting defence held firm.
35 mins: Lineout secured the All Blacks earn another penalty for the second maul in a row - Australia coming in from the side again. Then there’s another advantage when the ball gets sent to the blind side, the right, before New Zealand try to expand across the line to the left. They don’t execute cleanly though and play is taken back to the penalty on the right touchline. Again, the All Blacks kick for the corner.
Meanwhile To’omua finally limps from the field.
33 mins: The All Blacks win their lineout and earn an advantage soon afterwards for the Wallabies coming in from the side of the ruck. New Zealand kick to the corner to set up another golden scoring opportunity.
33 mins: And now there’s a Wallaby down. To’omua looks to have pulled a groin kicking away the restart. He has a longstanding injury to his hip flexor. He’s still on, for now.
32 mins: There’s a delay to the restart while Moody is being attended to on the field. The motorised stretcher is out, which is never a good sign.
TRY! New Zealand 10-7 Australia (Koroibete 31)
An even scrum but the All Blacks control it and spread from right to left before Clarke straightens up and beats yet another tackle. Wilson evens things up with a superb hit but the referee adjudges the spilled ball went backwards in contact. Sensing the momentum is no longer with them the All Blacks kick and Australia rebuild with some slow phases either side of halfway.
The speed picks up with Daugunu on the right flank, stepping inside, with White doing well at the breakdown to keep the move alive. Hanigan then breaks the line, supported by Hooper. There’s a huge overlap on the left wing and the Wallabies find it, Koroibete finishing off a long industrious attack. That was a real testament to industry and recycling play at all costs. Hanigan’s line break was decisive.
O’Connor strikes his sideline conversion beautifully. Much more favourable kicking conditions today.
26 mins: It’s unravelling a bit for the Wallabies. A knock-on soon after the restart gives the All Blacks broken field, but before they can build up a head of steam there’s a turnover in midfield. Deary me, ball after ball goes to ground - handling errors, passes heading behind the runner, and the referee’s arm shifts from pointing one way to the other like a windscreen wiper. Eventually everyone takes a breath with New Zealand awarded a scrum feed on their 22.
TRY! New Zealand 10-0 Australia (Smith 23)
From the 10m scrum New Zealand feed Goodhue to smash the line on the burst and take To’omua with him to the line. The next phase is going to be crucial with Australia unsettled and New Zealand scenting blood. It doesn’t last long because Smith snipes from the ruck and dives through traffic for the score.
Mo’unga turns five into seven.
21 mins: Slow controlled possession from the All Blacks following the restart, until a Smith box kick is claimed confidently by Banks on the burst. From the left win g Australia go through hands to the right and there’s purpose to the phase but the final pass is behind Daugunu and he knocks on.
The All Blacks feast on the mistake, hitting at pace through the middle with Coles prominent, the gain line being crossed repeatedly with short crisp passes. Barrett then kicks through to the right corner, but it’s a chase won by Koroibete who dives on the ball in the in-goal area.
Australia are starting to miss tackles repeatedly, which is a concern.
PENALTY! New Zealand 3-0 Australia (Mo'unga 19)
First blood to New Zealand, Mo’unga slotting over the penalty from 25m out.
18 mins: Lineout to New Zealand just inside Australian territory. Smith feeds Lienert-Brown to hit the line but Australia’s defence is firm again. A turnover follows soon after but the Wallabies kick away possession allowing Barrett another blistering run, this time with steps through traffic. From the next phase Clarke struts his stuff, pummelling through gold tacklers like a sumo wrestler swatting away kittens. The overlap is there on the left wing, but Clarke’s hurried netball-style pass is errant and the move breaks down. Gardner goes back to an earlier penalty advantage.
Clarke is a serious talent. His low centre of gravity makes him impossible to tackle.
15 mins: Smith feeds the scrum on the All Blacks’ 22 and two passes later Beauden Barrett picks a gap and sprints to halfway. Australia win the breakdown turnover though and kick the All Blacks back into their own half. Clarke returns it for his first run - the crowd enjoyed that moment - setting up the All Blacks for their first multi-phase attack with momentum. Play edges from left to right, from halfway to the 22, then back left, until Moody knocks on in contact. Excellent defence from the Wallabies with New Zealand buzzing all over that attack.
12 mins: From the left touchline Australia make slow progress towards the right but their inability to secure quick ball does not suit their running game and after being smothered for a couple of phases Philip knocks on.
The pattern of this game so far has resembled what happened in Wellington. Australia the keener of the two sides to take the game on.
9 mins: Slow possession for the All Blacks in side their 22 before another Smith box kick reaches halfway. The Wallabies continue their intent to run it back and despite a Koroibete fumble they look dangerous. Another breakdown turnover changes momentum and the All Blacks gain 30m quickly on the counter before Australia stabilise on halfway. Not long afterwards Hooper earns a penalty at the ruck by locking the ball down and New Zealanders interfering without their feet grounded.
A 45m penalty is on offer, but the Wallabies kick for touch instead.
7 mins: The Wallabies kick inside New Zealand territory but the lineout that follows misses everyone until it’s cleaned up by a gold jersey. O’Connor then sets up a multi-phase drive through the middle with much swifter clearing out at the breakdown. Tupou bursts the line, O’Connor accepts contact, Wilson is involved, this is terrific from the Wallabies, taking it within inches of the line. Just one more cleanout required, and they can’t secure it. Salakaia-Loto was isolated and right on the line New Zealand turnover.
5 mins: Australia’s first scrum feed results in a powerful shove, but it’s eventually reset after both front rows are forced up. The second feed ends with an Australian penalty! Huge psychological boost for the Wallabies. Tuungafasi at fault for collapsing.
3 mins: And now a handling error from New Zealand. The scrum win was straighforward but as the All Blacks spread left Goodhue threw a horrible pass that Clarke knocked on trying to catch it on the half-volley. Nervy start from both teams.
3 mins: An early blue with both XVs getting involved following Tupou knocking on a fierce flat O’Connor pass that was possibly intended for Slipper inside him. Scrum to New Zealand just inside Australia’s half.
2 mins: New Zealand secure the kick-off safely and after one drive in their own 22 Smith box kicks to touch on halfway. Australia’s first lineout is safe but there’s no cleanout at the breakdown and the All Blacks force the turnover. A mixed bag of a start for Dave Rennie.
Bledisloe II is underway...
Australian Angus Gardner is the referee tonight. You might recall he was the touch judge who missed Ioane stepping on the whitewash last week.
Retweet without comment by the offical Wallabies account. This could be spicy.
That was brilliant. God Defend New Zealand sun a cappella with the whole crowd joining in. Spine tingling stuff.
Now it’s time for the All Blacks, jogging out with purpose to the delight of the partisan audience. Plenty of focus on 21-year-old Caleb Clarke who makes his run-on debut. He is one heck of a unit.
The Wallabies have processed slowly through the bowels of Eden Park and out into the afternoon Auckland air. Conditions look glorious as the TV cameras pan across the packed stands.
Conditions are much more benign in Auckland than they were in Wellington. It’s dry, mild, and there’s only a moderate northerly breeze instead of the swirling gale the players had to contend with last week. It’s a sell out too at Eden Park, meaning 47.000 fans in attendance. We’re in for one of the most spectacular sporting spectacles of this Covid era.
Only a slightly tongue-in-cheek question, would Ian Foster’s job come under threat if the All Blacks lose?
Meanwhile over in Europe, Exeter have completed their extraordinary rise to reach the pinnacle of club rugby, as Robert Kitson reports.
When the European Cup started in 1995-96 they were in the fourth tier of English league rugby, light years from the Premiership never mind the summit of Europe. Now, with next Saturday’s Premiership final already in the diary, there is no reason to imagine they will not be back. The average age of this starting Chiefs lineup is 26, both their half-backs are 23 and their best players are contracted for the foreseeable future.
There’s a fair bit of rugby news flying around at the moment that we should probably cover, starting with South Africa’s withdrawal from The Rugby Championship in a major blow to an already heavily compromised tournament. The championship will now consist of just six Tests in Australia, starting with the third Bledisloe Cup clash between the hosts and New Zealand in Sydney on 31 October.
“We’ve talked about being excited about the opportunity to create history,” says Dave Rennie when asked about the Eden Park hoodoo. Other buzzwords from the brief standup were discipline, structures and physicality.
Thanks Kuroneko. NZ squad details now updated. Ioane, originally dropped to the bench, failed a fitness test on his hamstring on gameday. Peter Umaga-Jensen joins the interchange.
But before Wallabies fans get ahead of themselves, Bret Harris is back to remind everyone how this story usually ends.
Perhaps because Australia play the All Blacks more than any other country in the world, the Wallabies occasionally catch them off guard. But just about every time the Wallabies spring an upset on the All Blacks the response from the men in black is severe, particularly in recent years.
Last week’s performance has given Australian Bret Harris plenty of encouragement.
The result will give long-suffering Wallabies fans hope that their team is finally on the right path, albeit at the beginning of a new journey. New coach Dave Rennie assembled a new-look team, but more importantly he instilled a new attitude into the group. The Wallabies seemed hungrier than the All Blacks. You could see it in the way players dived on loose balls and fought for all those valuable one percenters.
“Sitting in Manhattan waiting for the match to start,” emails Thomas Walker. “Aussies in New York are wary of a backlash but quietly confident in the Wallabies team. Just hope they put up a fight like last week!”.
Great to have you on board Thomas. The opening 20 minutes should be fascinating. You have to expect the All Blacks are going to bring plenty of heat and with the Eden Park crowd behind them the Wallabies are going to have show plenty of mettle to gain a foothold.
After his impressive debut in the coaches box in Wellington, Dave Rennie has made four changes to his matchday squad for his second Test in charge.
The headline is Ned Hanigan coming into the back row for his first start in two years, replacing Pete Samu, who has taken the fall for the Wallabies’ failure to clean out the breakdown last Sunday. Hanigan will start as blindside flanker with Harry Wilson moving to No 8. After last week’s draw, Rennie signposted changes in his postmatch comments. “We found a lot of space in behind them, we had a lot of ball, but the quality of our clean out just wasn’t good enough,” he said. “We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post tackle.”
A less surprising switch sees Brandon Paenga-Amosa replacing Folau Fainga’a as hooker after the latter struggled with set pieces in the Cake Tin.
The other changes are on the bench with the exciting Jordan Petaia returning from injury alongside Reds skipper Liam Wright.
1.James Slipper, 2.Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3.Taniela Tupou, 4.Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5.Matt Philip, 6.Ned Hanigan, 7.Michael Hooper (c), 8.Harry Wilson, 9.Nic White, 10.James O’Connor, 11.Marika Koroibete, 12.Matt To’omua, 13.Hunter Paisami, 14.Filipo Daugunu, 15.Tom Banks.
Substitutes: 16.Jordan Uelese, 17.Scott Sio, 18.Allan Alaalatoa, 19.Rob Simmons, 20.Liam Wright, 21.Jake Gordon, 22.Jordan Petaia, 23. Reece Hodge.
New Zealand XV
Changes aplenty for the All Blacks after they underwhelmed in Ian Foster’s first game in charge.
There’s a vastly different backline headlined by the return of Beauden Barrett at fullback pushing Damian McKenzie to the bench. Rieko Ioane, originally dropped to the bench, now misses out entirely through injury with Anton Lienert-Brown lining up at outside centre. Caleb Clarke makes his run-on debut on the left wing with George Bridge suffering a nasty pec injury in training.
In the pack, Tupou Vaa’i makes his first start in place of Sam Whitelock who has not cleared HIA protocols, while Dane Coles replaces Codie Taylor as hooker.
In the reserves, there’s a debut looming for Alex Hodgman.
Assistant coach John Plumtree indicated the All Blacks have not shied away from critiquing last week’s showing. “The boys have been pretty hard on themselves around that,” he said. “The reason for that is that they’ve got their standards that they want to bring to any big contest and if those standards aren’t reached, then you’re going to get a reaction like that.”
Head coach Ian Foster is expecting a response. “It was our first Test together last weekend and while there were some aspects of our game that we were pretty excited about, especially around our set piece, we didn’t get the performance that we wanted, so there has been plenty for us to work on,” he said. “We need to be smarter with our ball and more focussed defensively.”
1.Joe Moody, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Tupou Vaa’i, 6.Shannon Frizell, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Ardie Savea, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Richie Mo’unga, 11.Caleb Clarke, 12.Jack Goodhue, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Jordie Barrett, 15.Beauden Barrett.
Substitutes: 16.Codie Taylor, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Nepo Laulala, 19.Scott Barrett, 20.Hoskins Sotutu, 21.TJ Perenara, 22.Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23.Damian McKenzie.
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the second Bledisloe Cup Test of the year. The All Blacks v the Wallabies gets underway at a packed Eden Park at 4pm local time 2pm AEDT.
If we get a contest half as gripping as last week’s series opener in Wellington then we’re in for a treat. Last Sunday’s draw set the stage for a new era for this longstanding rivalry with Dave Rennie taking the game to New Zealand in his first match in charge of the Wallabies, and Ian Foster overseeing a strangely subdued performance in his first afternoon in the All Blacks hotseat.
Both coaches have shuffled their packs ahead of the second encounter with Rennie eager to fix a couple of glaring weaknesses at the lineout and breakdown, while Foster benefits from the return of superstar Beauden Barrett; the All Blacks were diminished without his ability to help Richie Mo’unga control play.
Despite Australia’s performance last weekend the All Blacks will again start as clear favourites. The Wallabies haven’t won at Eden Park since 1986, losing their last five Tests at the venue by an average of 30 points. New Zealand couldn’t have picked a better venue to prove a point.
How they go about proving that point seems likely to involve a more physical performance. Assistant coach John Plumtree bemoaned some of Australia’s tactics in Bledisloe I, taking aim at the performance of referee Paul Williams. “There were some late charges, you guys saw all that,” Plumtree said, “and there were one or two other incidents, but All Blacks don’t cry – we just get on with it; we adjust to how the game is being refereed, and that’s in every department.” Somewhat disproving his own theory, Plumtree then went on to suggest with further comments that he was unable to just get on with it.
Those remarks arrived after former Wallabies and big chunks of Australian media spent 89 minutes of last week’s contest slamming Williams and his touch judges for their decision making. The modern tradition of international rugby that determines neither side is ever happy with the performance of a whistleblower responsible for administering the most Byzantine laws is incredibly tedious.
Thankfully, Rennie chose not to escalate the situation. “In my opinion, we don’t need to air that sort of stuff through the media,” he said. “And why would we do that? Are we trying to influence the referee for the next game and that sort of thing. You’ve got an opportunity to go straight to the referee, so I’m not sure if he’s appealing to the masses. I’m a little bit surprised by those comments.”
Ok, that’s all from me for a bit. I’ll be back with teams and some more talking points soon. In the meantime, if you want to get in touch, you can reach me via Twitter or email, or chat amongst yourselves below the line.