All Blacks v Argentina I
Well, before the match I said Argentine were a good side playing well and I’d be happy with a good, solid win. One out of three would have been good…
The whole team started well and there were some good touches and progress (I liked the way we kept it simple to try and regain momentum) but as the game went on, the same old problems we’ve seen for the last 5-6 years came into the foreground - stupid mistakes by senior players, lack of patience and a creeping collective terror of minimal time left to win the game.
Without re-watching the game, it seemed to me that apart from the scrums and a maul or two, the forwards went backwards from last week. The breakdown work was ineffective and the discipline was poor. Taylor was truly awful though the lineout jumpers and captain deserve some of the blame as well, as the co-ordination was poor - particularly on the last AB lineout throw. The swapping of the front row was dumb or mis-timed, but the elephant in the room was how poor the replacements actually were at the breakdown. They are all Crusaders so used to working together so you have to question their preparation for the game.
Jordie made metres on attack but that was about it, Clarke and Jordan never really hit their straps and Reiko was a shadow of his Ellis Park self. Mo’unga was pretty awful at times and looked to have the yips with the boot. Havili was solid without being spectacular. The whole attack looked slow, one-dimensional and lacking in penetration. Yet no-one played badly - it was either a poor attack plan and/or poor analysis of Argentinian defence.
Buggered if I know what the problems are, but it’s pretty dumb to blame it all on Foster. Last week it was all about Jason Ryan getting credit for the forwards improvement and this week they seem to have regressed. Ditto Joe Schmidt on attack and analysis. I do, however, question the effectiveness of the AB leadership group. Are they too powerful? Are they seeing the on-field issues as they occur and addressing them or do they get the collective yips?
My preferred solution after the Ireland fiasco was to sack Foster and replace him (either Schmidt or Robertson or ANO) and give the new bloke 8-9 games to demonstrate improvement and, if not, then a full scale review after the EOYT to see what the issues really are to fix what can be fixed before RWC2023. It seemed to me the best mix of possible progress and risk management. Sadly, the first part of that ship has sailed, but there’s still the option for the second bit.
The clusterfuck of omnishambles