Australia vs New Zealand: Five things we learned

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

What are we talking about after the Wallabies' loss to the All Blacks?

1. Wallabies’ backs squarely against the wall

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Australia in the opening Bledisloe Test, on a horror night that evoked memories of so many painful nights of defeat. They looked a shadow of the team that made it to the World Cup final and as the All Blacks piled on the points, that gulf widened. Injuries, skill errors, defensive lapses all conspired to hand the Wallabies their fifth straight Test loss and having to end a 15-year drought in New Zealand to keep themselves in contention for a series win. If underdog status is what they want, they’ve undoubtedly got it now.

2. More pain for Giteau

Matt Giteau had a painful return to the Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesA concussion 20 minutes into the first half of the World Cup final motivated Matt Giteau to return to Australia for a Bledisloe crack, but his homecoming lasted just 11 minutes. The 102-Test veteran could barely stand, let alone run, on his left ankle for three minutes before finally being subbed off for Matt Toomua, whose night lasted just 20 minutes as well. In that time, Giteau did manage an impressive defensive effort but it won’t be the return he would have liked. It’s hard to imagine this stroke of poor fortune will make any future negotiations between the ARU and Toulon any easier either.

3. No transition needed

No Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Conrad Smith. Absolutely no worries for New Zealand. Their new-look side had no trouble stepping up to the mantle, looking as intimidating as their predecessors. Ryan Crotty and Malakai Fekitoa destroyed any criticism of their centre pairing within six minutes and outplayed their opponents.

4. Barrett won’t be giving up his spot any time soon

Beauden Barrett had plenty to smile about. Photo: Getty ImagesThe debate over who would start at flyhalf for the All Blacks was a fierce one but Beauden Barrett well and truly sealed that at ANZ. The 25-year-old scored his own try and set up on other in the first half as he influenced the contest. He credited yoga and pilates for a more balanced mind. Seems like he’s on to a winning formula.

5. Lineout fails to fire

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika took a risk in dropping Scott Fardy to the bench, leaving his side with just two recognised jumpers. Two crucial lineouts midway through the first half vindicated the critics of the move, with Kieran Read stealing the first and the Wallabies losing the second just a minute later. The next attacking passage led to a silky Beauden Barrett try and left the Wallabies with a mammoth task to overcome.