Go the All Blacks. They were a different team last night in the test in Sydney. They still made too many mistakes, the backs are still not playing fluidly, and the mistake rate is too high. But their defense and the pressure they exerted was superb. Kieran Read is the man at nos 8. Dan Carter was great not only at first five, but in his ability to lead the AB's around the park. The lineout was a great improvement. The scrum is not what it was but still dominated. The AB's won the breakdown.
My view of the game was that the AB's could have won by more. The Wallabies defended superbly and got the rub of the green. But it was the AB's who pressured the Wallabies. They are not a great side to me, especially without Sterling Mortlock. Their backs are talented but green. Their forwards are triers but lack the sort of power that can dominate the Blacks or Boks.
So, well done Graham H and the team. I suspect that they are starting to peak. I am still concerned about the wings. I am not sure Sivivatu and Rokocoko are the best wingers in NZ. I wonder if David Smith, Hosea Gear and Rudy Wolf are all better wings. Our wings to me lack pace at the moment, and their error rates are far too high. Beyond that, I think we are back on track.
I now believe the Blacks can beat the Boks when they come down here. The forwards are starting to role. They have the right mix now that Tialata is out of the team. They are growing in confidence. I think we have a chance. I think too we are on track with a good chance in 2011. If Haymen and others come home as word has it they are, then it will be a hugely competitive fight to get into the team. The team chosen will be tough. If Dan and Richie are fit for the whole tournament, and they get the mix right, it will titanic, but we have a chance.
A final word of G.Henry. I have questioned him and whether there is true unity in the team. I saw him walking through the team after the game. That is a man who has the players trust. I read Richie McCaw's defence of him the other day in the Sunday papers. The team is united and behind him. I think I have been a little tough on him.
On the other hand I think Robbie Deans is now under pressure. If they lose twice to the Boks which they may indeed do now, how long will the honeymoon last? This is crunch time for the Wallabies. Isn't it amazing what one point either way does? If the AB's had lost, it would Graham feeling the crunch! Who would be an international coach?