Almanac Rugby – Bledisloe 2: ‘Rennie-vation’



In my review of the first game in Wellington I alluded to a Renaissance of the Wallabies under new coach, Dave Rennie. What we saw on Sunday at Eden Park in Game 2 was more a renovation. Some walls were knocked down, the wet areas got a spruce up and we put it on the market hoping to make a killing only to be brought back to earth. Turned out it was a buyers market, not a seller’s.


Both teams made personnel changes. Both hookers were replaced and fresh legs injected into the backlines to bring more torment to the line running. Unfortunately for Australia our X factor, Jordan Petaia, was only used off the bench. The All Blacks had less compunction throwing their spanner into the works from the kickoff.


Caleb Clarke had an impact from the moment he first touched the ball. He busted tackles, he made valuable territory with each and every sortie. Most importantly, he allowed space for quick ball movement from every clean out he set up. With his proud Dad watching from the stands at a packed stadium, he inevitably set tongues wagging about being a 21st century Jonah Lomu.


The first half was an arm wrestle and the Wallabies made some good plays. The lineout was better with the addition of Ned Hanigan and their ability to capitalise on territory occasionally kept them in the game.


The second half, however, was a masterclass from the maestros. The All Blacks were relentless in forcing errors and applying pressure with ball in hand. The Wallabies were pinned down for long passages and just couldn’t seem to find any space for set plays.


Probably the most telling stat showing the way the All Blacks had gone up a gear from Game 1 was the direct comparison of the captains. Sam Cane busted five tackles as he built momentum for subsequent phases of play while Michael Hooper was unable to shake off a single tackle and thereby there were no offloads or setting something up for his teammates.


The final score was reflective of the contest. A 20 point win was what the hosts deserved. Our trip across the ditch has produced a much needed Renaissance and a renovation that didn’t quite work. We now have two home tests and can still reclaim the prized silverware if we win both. While unlikely, it will be great to welcome the boys home and cheer them on. In for a Rennie, in for a round (or two) I say.



More from Brian the Ruminator  HERE


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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

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