I am more than willing to raise my hand and say that I expected the All Blacks to lose on Saturday night.
I can’t pin point WHY I felt this way, but after Dan Carter and Liam Messam were deemed unfit I was 100% certain we would lose. No team can win ALL the time after all. Power switches hands. It’s just the nature of the game. Thankfully I was proven wrong, with the All Blacks recording a convincing win. I won’t repeat the score… whether you support the All Blacks or the Wallabies, you will know what the result was.
Being that this website is very much Aussie based, with a large amount of Aussie readers, I won’t harp on too much about how awesome the All Blacks are, instead I will share with you my top five highlights of the game.
Emma’s top five (totally one-eyed, one-sided) Bledisloe game one highlights
Bender went on a (try scoring) bender!
Though I am not a fan of the man, even I cannot deny that Ben Smith (aka Bender) has had a VERY impressive season in 2013, and unlike some players his form seems to have carried through from Super 15 to the international stage. Smith ran in three tries on Saturday night and was by far the most impressive of the All Blacks outside backs. In fact, it seemed as if he was the only All Blacks outside back on the field, with neither Izzy Dagg or Julian Savea standing out.
Cruden rocked the #10 jersey (… aka he came, he soared, he conquered…. he busted his knee)
With the news that Dan Carter was injured, it became clear that Aaron Cruden would have to take on the first five role. Many wondered if he would be up to the role, if he could be anywhere near as reliable as DC, and really take charge of the backs. Aaron Cruden gave one of his best performances in the black jersey, and showed that there is life after DC. All Blacks fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief at the knowledge that our first five jersey was in safe hands. For one night anyway.
Steven Luatua looking like he belonged
As with Ben Smith, I’m not a huge fan of Steven Luatua (could be something to do with him being a Blues player and me being a Crusaders supporter…), but I will be first to agree that he had a great game on Saturday night. Watching him play I forgot that it was his first run-on start in the All Blacks jersey, I forgot that he’s only 22 (… and that he plays for the Blues), and for 80 minutes felt as if I was watching THE Jerome Kaino replacement. Don’t get me wrong, Liam Messam is great in the #6 jersey, BUT Luatua seems to have something a little extra to offer… and has a long career with the All Blacks ahead of him.
Sir/Lord/King Richie is back (and better than ever…)
Prior to this game the media was full of haters hating, saying that in no uncertain terms Richie McCaw would come back from his sabbatical and just not be up to the task of leading the All Blacks.
Comments were made about his supposed lack of fitness, and it was suggested that New Zealand’s favourite son should just step aside and let Sam Cane take over the prized #7 jersey. Then the whistle blew in Sydney and what happened? Richie led the team in his usual inspirational manner… Kieran Read did a great job as captain in the June tests, but the team seemed to step up an extra 10 notches with Richie taking the reins. Lack of fitness? Richie was right up there as far as his physical effort went. Looking at him you couldn’t tell that he’d had seven months off the field. When he went off at 72 minutes he wasn’t limping, he wasn’t huffing and puffing. He looked fired up. He looked GOOD. The expletive he let out as he sit down wasn’t an expletive of ‘____ I am knackered’, it was a ‘____ it’s good to be back!’. As for stepping aside for Sam Cane? When Cane did go on he made no impact and looked out of place. If he steps aside for someone it should NOT be Sam Cane. #justsaying
Ryan Crotty FINALLY in black! (aka.. the sexy beard of awesome FINALLY in black!)
I’m not just saying this because I’m a Crusaders supporter and he’s a Crusaders player. Ryan Crotty was THE stand out midfield player in the New Zealand conference of the Super 15 this year and when he wasn’t named in the initial squad for the Rugby Championship, a LOT of New Zealanders were saying WTF STEVE????? With Conrad Smith going on his sabbatical before the end of year tour, the All Blacks NEED to blood some new midfield players and it was great to see a player who had actually earned his spot (not a dig… well… perhaps…) make it onto the field. Admittedly he didn’t make a huge impact coming off the bench, but in his 17 minutes he was on the field he didn’t look out of place either. And in pervy reality… with a beard as divine as his, how could he NOT look good on the field?!
There you have it, MY personal top five highlights of the match. Maybe I did harp on a little about the awesomeness that is the All Blacks… and I’m well aware that there are probably as many lowlights I could list as well. BUT that would mean I was providing a balanced view of the game, as opposed to the one-eyed view that I think it is essential for all rugby fans to have. It’s what provides the (generally) friendly
banter between opposition fans… and THAT is part of what is so entertaining about rugby, especially when it comes to the All Blacks v Wallabies.
I am attending the game this weekend (child-free time, oh. my. god) and I hope that next week in my list of highlights I can add ‘seeing Richie lifting the Bledisloe Cup’. Perhaps with a few photos of the momentous occasion.
… and hopefully a photo of that spectacular officially unofficial 8th Wonder of the World, known as Ryan Crotty’s beard.