Niggle ' got to' All Blacks but ultimately fell short

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies came into the second Bledisloe Test with a mandate to physically intimidate and it somewhat worked, but ultimately the gap in skills kept them in the Bledisloe wilderness.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the series had been a tougher challenge than 42-8 and 29-9 wins in consecutive weeks would suggest.

Asked whether he felt this was the biggest gap New Zealand had held over Australia in his memory, Hansen said things were more difficult than they seemed.

“On the scoreboard it looks like we’ve done it pretty easy but I don't think anyone would say it was easy out there tonight.,” he said.

“The skill level of our guys was really good under extreme pressure at times and I think at the moment that's probably where we’ve got a little bit of an edge.

“I'm not going to sit here and bag Australia, they’re one of our best friends."

The opening stages of Saturday’s clash were far more heated than anything that played out in Sydney and New Zealand skipper Kieran Read said it did affect his side early on.

“Perhaps we let it get to us a bit too much in that first half, certainly,” he said.

“There was a bit of niggle and that's what you expect in a pretty high pressure game out there and the Aussies brought it a lot of that physicality. I guess once we were able to control our own game, takes away all that extra stuff.

Hooker Dane Coles said both sides were a little too tied up in the physicality during the opening stages of the game..

“It probably did (go too far), to be honest,” he said.

“We just wanted to play footy and they brought that kind of edge but we weren't going to back down, I suppose.

“I think the first 20 [minutes] there was a bit of pushing and probably both teams wanted to play a bit of footy but both boys were pretty fired up and wanted to get into each other [and] probably carried on a bit too much to be honest.

The All BLacks were rattled to start. Photo: Getty Images“We got there in the end, just took a bit of time.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was pleased with the contest his side created, compared to the series opener.

"We need to be more clinical obviously but from an intent point of view, putting their bodies on the line for the match, the contest, I was more pleased with the performance this week in that regard and that's something we've got to build on and bring to every game," he said.


"We can't wait until we're down on one knee before we bring it."

Stephen Moore put his body on the line for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesIt didn’t rattle New Zealand for long, as they piled on the pain in the latter stages to seal a 14th consecutive Bledisloe Cup win and Hansen said the Wallabies’ rediscovered aggression came as no surprise.

“No you had to expect something was coming after last week - nothing came,” he said.

“They've copped a fair bit of criticism back home and they're proud people so they were going to come and bring whatever they had to to bring and they did they did that and it was just a good old hard game of footy.

“It was just a matter of us making sure that we kept our focus where it needed to be, which was playing our game and there were times we drifted off.”

“We've lost 818 caps so it's the type of game that'll make this team grow even better, [having had] that experience."