A nuetrals perspective
I can’t speak for all of you as a collective 😉 but some of you may be egging it a bit too much in terms of this game being a disaster beyond all disasters. The fact is, this has happened before (RWC2019 SF) and will happen again.
EDIT: I mean in terms of this being rugby. You have to accept losses. Just makes it hard for you bastards you only lose occasionally.
Argentina won the way you always beat the All Blacks: minimise your errors, make your tackles, and don’t take any shit at set piece.
I’ve said it a few times the last month, but I think as fans you guys occasionally get carried away with the freakish skills some of your guys possess, and think that is the difference i.e. that they’re just better as a group than everyone. Really, its just that the fifteen individuals you put on the park at one time (fourteen is S Barrett is playing 😉) are probably better players than the other blokes, but what is that saying about Champion Team versus Champion Individuals? Doesn’t always work.
@mariner4life - in the same period - has pointed out a few times that when under the pump, the ABs haven’t really looked that special. Nothing more than good even in Sydney - it was either dinky kicks breaking things open for you + counterattack (26-0 at halftime), or getting whacked (first part of the second half).
I count one set piece try in the period - and that was a 5 metre scrum where our flanker didn’t get off in time at ANZ, leaving the wing stranded.
That has been the AB game plan since Henry / McCaw left: defend, counterattack, and (occasionally) pull off your skills and fitness, complemented occasionally by the odd piece of streaky bullshit. And I’m not saying those skills and fitness aren’t great, because the winning record over the last decade speaks for itself.
BUT these skills and fitness aren’t really built around any structure besides “You’re the Fucking All Blacks, go out and win”.
Looking at the last few weeks, maybe the depth isn’t as good as everyone thinks. I’ll talk about the tight five, because that’s my jam.
Big concern for the Wallabies was second row in particular, but we generally stood up physically with Philip, LSL, and even Simmons. On the flipside, guys like Tuipolotou have not shown up with consistency. Whitelock is still a stalwart but looked a helluva lot better with BBBR (as would any of us!)
Your props are fine around the park but getting a bit of a lesson at scrum time, as a collective - that also comes back to your second row being a little frail. The combination there is important, and what stands out is you’re not learning on the run. A couple of times the Wallabies put the ABs under pressure and you didn’t adjust.
Must say that Coles is a fuckwit who throws his toys when he’s not allowed to just swan around on the wing while everyone else does the hard yards (like Codie Taylor).
The backs are going through the motions, and look it isn’t park footy and you can’t always have a highly structured plan, but “play what’s in front of you” has dangers of its own, especially when half the backline changes in the space of 2 weeks from A to B and back again.
Maybe making 9+ changes two weeks in a row wasn’t the right decision. Maybe the selections and combinations are just wrong.
Regardless, you haven’t really moved the needle in close to a decade, tactically speaking. It makes the ABs an easy target for coaches to plan for: front up physically, don’t miss your tackles, and don’t give away cheap ball. Of course, that relies on players executing and the Wallabies continue to be plagued by inconsistency.
Contrast Brisbane and Wellington versus ANZ and Auckland from a Wallabies point of view. Chalk and cheese in terms of execution.
The most burning example of this was Caleb Clarke: breaks 8 tackles on his way to setting up a try in Auckland, but was well looked after tonight. Simple game, really.