It was a drama-filled night at Forsyth Barr Stadium, but the Wallabies fell just short.
What are we talking about after that Bledisloe thriller?
1. I see it, but I don’t really believe it.
Yes, the Bledisloe Cup is staying in New Zealand for another year, but that showing from the Wallabies did more for Australian rugby fans than anything has for a long, long time. Australia turned around a rollercoaster series opener to blitz New Zealand early and shock their opponents. They made more tackles, though still missed 33, but showed they are more than competitive against their Kiwi counterparts. There’s been plenty of negativity around Australian rugby this season but this is one chance for fans to rally around the Wallabies. The players are acutely aware of that too, with the Wallabies making a point of acknowledging travelling fans after the match.
2. Ice man melts
There were so many positives for the Wallabies from that Bledisloe clash but Bernard Foley’s kicking conversion rate was the glaring difference in that Dunedin encounter. Beauden Barrett slotted a perfect five-from-five, where Foley had just two-from-six, with three conversions and a penalty among those that went awry. Though he was far from at fault across the game, nine points left on the field could have made all the difference in one of the best Bledisloe encounters in recent times.
2. One step forward, one pack back
Where last week the Wallabies forward pack and set piece work was a silver lining on a dismal night, it provided some of the lowest points in Dunedin. Wallabies starting hooker Stephen Moore was pulled before half-time as the Wallabies wandered dangerously close to yellow-card territory. It’s an issue they’ll need to sort out before the final Test in Brisbane, with the All Blacks quick to sniff the vulnerability out on Saturday night and make the most of it.
4. McMahon the man
The void Sean McMahon will leave when he heads to Japan in 2018 was shown starkly in his outstanding performance at Forsyth Barr Stadium. In his first Test in New Zealand, the 23-year-old had 13 carries for 31 metres, made 11 tackles and won a turnover as well. The Mad Dog is back. It’s just unfortunate for the Wallabies that it won’t be long until he’s lost to the international side for two years.
5. Barrett the circuit breaker
Beauden Barrett’s boot was critical but the All Blacks flyhalf proved the circuit breaker for New Zealand twice in the final stages. His first try put New Zealand in the lead for the first time all night, his second sealed the match. He picked a good day to return to some of his best rugby.