The Wallabies outplayed the All Blacks on the park, but as it did back in 2011, the loss will be an important lesson for the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup.
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It was almost a case of history repeating itself; the final away game prior to a Rugby World Cup saw an All Black side that never quite fronted up on the night.
The All Blacks went down to a superior Wallabies 27-19 in Sydney.
The impressive debut from Nehe Milner-Skudder, who scored two tries on the night, has to be the one big positive the All Blacks can take away from the loss.
Milner-Skudder now has a serious claim to grab a ticket to the World Cup, the young winger showed all the brilliance of his opening year in Super Rugby for the All Blacks on debut, and as expected looked untouchable with ball in hand.
But that was really the only positive that an unusually average All Black side can take away from the loss.
The Wallabies didn’t just win in Sydney last night, they were impressive across the park, and the key players that had been highlighted all week made their individual impacts on the game.
The try to Adam Ashley-Cooper in the corner that put the Wallabies in front was a good sign of how approaches to scoring situations have changed under the coaching of Michael Cheika. Matt Toomua didn’t panic, he read the play, and slotted a nicely weighted kick for Ashley-Cooper to run on to.
In previous games, the Wallabies would have gotten into a panic and blown the opportunity to score at such a crucial moment.
That play in particular highlighted that the Wallabies can also carry on after missed opportunities in the same game, because in the first half, the Wallabies were all but certain to score until one of the forwards dropped the ball after a sloppy pass from the halfback.
The try to Nic White that sealed the game was just the icing on the cake.
Despite the win, there are still problems for the Wallabies however, the lineout was a shambles and must be addressed before Eden Park.
It isn’t often that the All Blacks let opposition off the hook as much as they did last night, the Wallabies were barely punished for any of their mistakes, and how effective the Wallabies kicking game was came as a big surprise. The Wallabies backs looked comfortable under the high ball and should take a lot of confidence that they were able to defuse one of the All Blacks key game plans.
Daniel Carter’s goal kicking wasn’t good enough, and granted many of his kicks were from out wide, but crucial points were left to go begging. Julian Savea barely made an impact on the game, and how much better the Wallabies were at both the breakdown and the scrum is a big point of concern for the All Blacks.
This loss will hurt the All Blacks, but is has come at the best time, and both teams have a lot to play for the next time round.