The Wallabies beat the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday night.
What are we talking about after that one?
1. This is no dream
Don’t pinch yourself, you’re awake Aussie rugby fans. The Wallabies have beaten the All Blacks in a Bledisloe Test match for the first time since 2015, just nine weeks after conceding their biggest ever score against their trans-Tasman rivals in Sydney. The last time a professional Australian XVs rugby team beat a Kiwi team was 512 days ago, when the Waratahs topped the Chiefs in Sydney. No Super Rugby team could find joy this season in 26 attempts. Everything that went wrong in Sydney went right in Brisbane - their defence was accurate, their composure held up in critical stages and they gave Australian rugby some semblance of the tonic it needed after the worst year in recent memory.
2. Kicking decisive in All Blacks
Bernard Foley’s patchy kicking threatened to cost to the Wallabies in Brisbane, with the flyhalf struggling to find his radar. The Wallabies 10 has kicked just three from 10 shots in the past two Tests against the All Blacks and had one from four tonight. Reece Hodge’s perfect record from two long distance kicks ultimately proved match-winning. And for once, an errant kick at the death came off the boot of an All Black, with Damian McKenzie unable to level scores with a conversion attempt after Rieko Ioane’s try.
3. Next generation showing through
Potentially the most exciting part of this Wallabies win was the performance of the crop of debutants that have rolled through since the 2015 World Cup. Jack Dempsey has gone to another level in the past two Tests, while his back row partner Sean McMahon continued to remind fans of what they’ll miss in the next two years. Reece Hodge’s composure was, literally, at a match-winning level in Brisbane, with two clutch penalty kicks. Lukhan Tui handled his injection well in the forwards after an injury to Rob Simmons. There is still a long way to go before the 2019 World Cup, but there’s nothing wrong with looking with optimism on the crop of players that stepped up on Saturday night and beat an All Blacks side, that may have been short of a few stars, but is still the best in the world.
4. Special moments bookend Suncorp night
The result made this a special night for the Wallabies, but it was significant even before kick-off. The Indigenous jersey has been a popular addition to the Wallabies’ rotation, both internally and externally. The pre-game Welcome to Country included a ‘coo-ee’ call for the crowd to participate in, setting the tone for an exhilarating spectator experience.It was emotional post-match for all the right reasons, with Stephen Moore having a fairytale Test farewell Kurtley Beale didn’t have the blinders he has been having, but he was part of creating a moment that will go down in Australian rugby history.
5. It’s all about the next step
So, you beat the All Blacks - what’s next? The Wallabies will savour this win, and they deserve to, but the most telling part for this side will be where they go from here. The team that got the better of New Zealand in Sydney in 2015 went on to play in a Rugby World Cup final, before things in Australian rugby started to unravel. Australia plays the Barbarians in Sydney next weekend, before going on a four-week Spring Tour and they need to show they can play at this level on more than just a one-off occasion.