Wallabies vs All Blacks: Five things we learned

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Wallabies have gone down to New Zealand in a 37-20 loss in Japan.

What are we talking about after that game?

1. Spring Tour carries extra weight after Bledisloe sweep

Saturday’s Test was an improvement on the first two Bledisloe Tests, the closest margin of the 2018 series, but Saturday’s Yokohama Test had a familiar feel about it.

The Wallabies hung in early and looked dangerous but poor decision-making opened the door for the All Blacks.

 Once the Kiwi momentum began to roll, the Wallabies began to fall off.

They were not helped by some of Romain Poite’s bizarre officiating but this game was decided by more than head-scratching calls.

Another Bledisloe loss makes the upcoming Spring Tour critical for the Wallabies, most critically their November 10 clash with Wales.

They haven’t lost to Wales since 2008 and they simply have to stretch that for one more year.

2. Turnovers, discipline the difference 

Each side of the stat sheet looked almost identical after Saturday’s Bledisloe Test. Except for one area - turnovers.

The Wallabies lost nearly three times as much ball as the All Blacks through their own mistakes - a forced offload here, a knock on there - and it began to compound.

Those tightened up as the game went on but even in the final stages the count continued to mount against the Wallabies.

In the end, Australia coughed the ball up 18 points to New Zealand’s seven and they really can only blame themselves there.

The penalty count finished 11-5 against the Wallabies and though many of those were questionable, silly brain snaps like Tolu Latu’s yellow-card response to Codie Taylor in the 66th minute are elements they can really do without.

3. ABs conveyor belt just keeps on rolling 

TJ Perenara was damaging for the All Blacks. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySteve Hansen shook up his selections in Japan but a relatively new-look lineup didn’t seem to change much when it came to the end of the day.

There were few better examples of that than Matt Todd when he was injected into the game.

Todd is playing in the Japanese Top League this summer so far down the pecking order he was but with an injury to Sam Cane he was into the 23 this weekend and made an immediate impact when he came on.

Damian McKenzie had his first start since the All Blacks' loss to South Africa in Wellington almost two months ago and TJ Perenara was damaging when he started over Aaron Smith.

Their second row was not first choice with Brodie Retallick coming off the bench but Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock still managed to punish the side.

No shortage of talent across the ditch, that’s for sure.

4. Simmons rises to Cheika's challenge

Rob Simmons is a polarising player in the public view but whatever you think of the lock, on Saturday he did exactly what was asked of him.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika challenged the lock to prove himself worthy of his elevation after Adam Coleman’s injury and he had one of his best Tests in recent time.

He was running hard and proved a threat in attack, but critically he played his role in the lineout.

It wasn’t perfect and Australia has a lot of work to do under pressure in that set piece but Simmons’ were some of the best Wallabies in that time on what was ultimately a tough afternoon. 

5. Comeback stories a positive

Samu Kerevi, Sefa Naivalu and Jack Dempsey all returned from long Test absences in Yokohama.

For Kerevi and Dempsey, this was their first international appearance and the pair both made it through unscathed.

Kerevi particularly added spark when he came on and looked threatening with most of his involvements on either side of the ball.

Naivalu has been on the fringes of a return and did his retention chances no harm in Yokohama, scoring a handy try just before half-time.

It’s a nice change for the Wallabies to be welcoming back some injured numbers rather than watching them hobble off.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika hinted there would be more new faces on the upcoming tour as well (cough*Jordan Petaia*cough), so watch this space.