Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Eden Park blitz eliminates Sydney's soggy stumble

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We don't need to poke fun at the Wallabies, they did it themselves as they staggered under the weight of another All Blacks Bledisloe blitz.

An obvious shift in the All Blacks' attitude delivered a fundamental execution of the visitors' hopes at Eden Park.

Off you go, back in your box, let's see if you've got what it takes to challenge for the Bledisloe next year ... those were messages left ringing in the chastened Wallabies' ears as they headed for the airport departure gates. They did not help themselves but they were not allowed to play.

Much of the All Blacks' performance the week before was sloppy but this time they packed determination alongside attention to detail. They had their moments as well, two sinbins and a sloppy final quarter, but by then they had filleted, cooked and digested the Wallaby carcass.

Strong results in all spheres of life are based on lots of homework, repeated practice then uncomplicated performance.

The All Blacks hitched their wagon to that proven formula.

The forwards bent their frames to play north-south rugby at set-piece and rucks leaving the backs the east-west width of Eden Park to work their magic in perfect conditions.

Initial difficulties with captain Richie McCaw in the bin were covered and when Wallaby lock Rob Simmons was yellow-carded the All Blacks turned up the wick.

They watched Wallaby eyes roll back in their sockets as they yielded a penalty try at a scrum then another counter-attack try involving Aaron Cruden and Julian Savea. The Wallabies were shot. They were game but could not match the pace and width of the All Blacks game.

Any notions there was a weary tread about the All Blacks evaporated as they played with relentless speed and intent before several lineout drives for a McCaw double blasted any thoughts of a Wallabies revival.

The All Blacks had their soggy stumble in Sydney when the dots and dashes failed to align for a world record sequence. They played poorly, but did not lose.

On Saturday they produced much of what we have come to expect from Steve Hansen's crew.

Up front Dane Coles with his athletic zest was a spark alongside the workaholic Brodie Retallick, while Cruden taunted his rivals with such a balanced book of work alongside the devastating Savea.

They were an awesome foursome among a collection of All Blacks fury.

Coles is no babe in the rugby world. He is heading for his 28th birthday yet did not make his All Blacks ascension until 2012. Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore and Hika Elliot were rated ahead of him until he got a chance on the end of year tour.

He had started in just four of his 15 tests before he fronted this season's series with England and the twin Bledisloe tests. The scratchy look of uncertainty has disappeared and Coles now looks the business.

We know about the athletic skill which allowed him to make a superb defensive save in Sydney but there have been questions about his consistency in packing the scrum and finding his lineout targets. Coles is eradicating those fast.

He's packed on some kilos and at Eden Park bound into a powerful scrum and found all his jumpers until he was rested for the final 15 minutes.

For ages we wondered who was going to suit up at hooker once Hore and Mealamu were done. The money was on Coles if he could get his game tuned to the test needs and his timing has come good.

His backup? Who knows? It's a bit like the Wallabies, a flurry of promise then a lull when they play the best in the business.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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