Rugby: Magnificent seven for impressive ABs

By Gregor Paul

All Blacks 32 Australia 19

TOKYO - In normal circumstances it's not okay to gloat. But this morning shouldn't be deemed normal - not now the All Blacks have walloped the Wallabies seven times in a row.

Auckland, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Sydney, Wellington and now Tokyo - anywhere you like, Australia, the All Blacks have your number. If Robbie Deans is the Wallabies' saviour, he's taking his time about it.

This dominance, this mental hold the All Blacks have over the Wallabies - that's very good reason to gloat. That's good reason to feel just a little proud; good reason to roll over, kiss the wife, go back to sleep and then get up later to watch it all over again.

But there's more to it than that. There was plenty in the performance to find gloat-worthy. Like the lineout. Remember it was a source of torment. Enough to drive the nation to drink and Steve Hansen to a new job?

Well, it was the Australians who were reduced to being a rabble last night. Tom Donnelly and Adam Thomson nailed the timing and decision-making. They also made the smart call of challenging in the air and that was too much for the Australians.

By the final quarter, the All Blacks were enjoying the same kind of superiority at the collision as they did in their previous test.

Tony Woodcock looked more like a fetching openside than David Pocock ever did and again, the loose trio had it all over their Wallaby counterparts.

There was evidence, too, that the coaching reshuffle had some merit. Having lacked some edge for much of the season, the backs had some thrust and flair about them. They played close to the game line - as they have for most of the last six years - but had some more ideas about how to make that policy work.

The outside strike runners were brought in from deep at pace and were always looking to offload. Some of the move-ment and speed was impressive and with a bit more polish, the package could be lethal.

Probably, though, what impressed most about the All Blacks in Tokyo was the way they held their composure and belief after enduring an uncomfortable 10 minutes before the break.

Sitiveni Sivivatu, who hadn't played since the last test against Australia, typically slotted in as if he had never been away. He was his usual tricky self until he meandered under Adam Ashley-Cooper while the Wallaby midfielder was taking a high kick.

It was an expensive piece of clumsiness as it cost the All Black wing a yellow card. The Australians were alert to what needed to be done to make the advantage count. They kicked long to the empty left flank and forced the All Blacks to scurry and flap to cover.

Peter Hynes was able to dive in at the corner after the All Blacks had been pulled and stretched and it could have been worse.

Adam Thomson had to detach from a five metre scrum to defend for Sivivatu, the Wallabies worked the right shoulder and sent Wycliff Palu up the middle where he was held up by Jimmy Cowan just inches short.

There was no hiding that the All Blacks were wobbly near halftime. Hynes' try was the first they had conceded to Australia since the fourth minute of their first clash this year at Eden Park.

The Wallabies would probably not have been aware of the length of their try drought to the nearest minutes but they would have known it had been a long time; a very long time. There's always a eureka moment when a team finally breaks through like that and the Australians made the realisation they could score and they could cause problems.

But they couldn't sustain their momentum. Or they weren't allowed to sustain their momentum and now they must be wondering if they will ever beat the All Blacks again. Don't take a second feeling sorry for them. Stop, take it all in and enjoy.

New Zealand 32 (S. Sivivatu, C. Smith tries; D. Carter 2 cons, 6 pens)

Australia 19 (P. Hynes try; M. Giteau con, 4 pens).

- Herald on Sunday

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