What Changes for Bledisloe 2?
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m a little more positive about our chances, though I am far from convinced we should be favourites for the cup given our form leading into it.
SB’s red card cost us the chance of winning that test. Yes we got dominated in the first 40, more so than usual. But that wouldn’t be the first time we’ve weathered the storm, kept the scoreboard close and then finished stronger.
Credit to the Wallabies, they didn’t let up and they didn’t panic when Beauden dotted down after by far our best passage of play. They exploited the numerical advantage, particularly around the fringes and really made us pay for SB’s brain fart. But I would expect any of the top sides to do that; bottom line is we will get pumped if we lose a player early in the game as we’re back in the pack now. The same is true for the other top sides.
We do have the cattle to go all the way, and a win against SA in pool play will give us a pretty easy run to the semi, but we need to get our tactics right.
Given we will never blow teams away in the first 40 I’d like to see us be more conservative with both selections and gameplan.
That means keeping the ball in hand more and using our forwards to hit it up around the fringes in the early exchanges. Wear teams down even if we’re not scoring tries.
Selection wise we need to start Taylor and TJP, move Beauden back to 10 and put our most experienced back BFA at 15 where decision making and defence will be important.
A rookie like Ennor at 14 is not a huge risk.
Cane should start at 7 with Ardie on the bench, and a big bopper at 6 (Frizell, Jacobson or Squire, they just need to go hard for 50 odd minutes).
Then in the second 40 we can roll out Coles, A Smith, Aridie and Mo’unga to really up the tempo - those 4 blokes coming on at the 50-60 minute mark can provide us a massive point of difference. I don’t think any other team could boast that level of class and impact off the bench when defenses are tiring.
This 2nd Bledisloe is a great chance for us to adjust our game plan and play more to our strengths.