Carter sets All Blacks on winning way

By Gregor Paul

All Blacks 19 Wallabies 14

>>Injury ends Hore's tour

Superior fitness and an overdue personnel switch were the drivers behind this solid, if not entirely convincing, All Black victory.

After dawdling through much of the first half looking every inch a side that hadn't played for an age, the All Blacks clicked into gear in the final quarter when Daniel Carter was finally given licence to take control.

The Wallabies, having even less game time clocked per man than the All Blacks, were only able to snort fire for 60 minutes before they were battling a fatigue so intense it clearly affected their ability to get bodies to the ball and then make good decisions.

They also didn't help their cause much with their work at the breakdown where they conceded an inordinate number of penalties.

For long periods, the Wallabies weren't able to emerge from any collision without seeing referee Alan Lewis standing with his arm straight.

Their crime was always the same the first man in was guilty of flopping over the ball and it didn't matter how many times they were pinged, they kept doing it.

They should be grateful they were not punished as heavily as they should have been in terms of points conceded but also that they didn't have anyone sent to the bin.

Part of the reason they were not as badly punished as they should have been was that the All Blacks were well off the pace for much of the game.

The decision to play Carter at second five-eighths should not be taken again. It just didn't make sense to have the world's best No 10 playing a peripheral role all in the name of Stephen Donald's development.

The selectors wanted to accelerate Donald's progress and thought having Carter in his ear one berth out would help him settle and read the game better. Donald probably loved having Carter guide him in such a way but for those who had forked out some decent coin to see the game, there was the frustration of seeing the world's best No 10 stand back and watch a guy with half his ability run the show.

That's not being critical of Donald to have even half the talent of Carter is a fair effort and the Chiefs player went about his work with purpose and efficiency. The problem, though, is that the All Blacks are a different team when Carter plays at first five and they missed his direction and poise as well as his ability to find space.

Obviously coach Graham Henry reached the same conclusion shortly after half-time when he took Donald off, shifting Carter back to first five and injecting the linebreaking thrust of Ma'a Nonu.

The catalyst for the switch was the All Blacks try in the first minute of the second half, which was the first telling contribution with ball in hand made by Carter.

He flicked the ball effortlessly to his left with such speed that it gave Conrad Smith an opportunity to do the same thing and Isaia Toeava just had to take his time to free the unmarked Sitiveni Sivivatu.

It was a try the All Blacks needed as much to prove to themselves they could actually break the Wallaby line as to bring the scores level.

From there, the All Blacks settled. Piri Weepu came off the bench and finally the All Blacks found their rhythm.

Certainly that inside pairing of Weepu, Carter and Nonu had far greater balance than the starting trio of Jimmy Cowan, Donald and Carter, but it is also true the Wallabies started to wilt.

In the first half they had made nearly all the running. Matt Giteau had been at his impish best, skipping past defenders and putting runners into holes.

Just as he did in Sydney, he set up the Wallabies opening try with a stunning nolook pass over his shoulder.

Richie McCaw appeared to have collared the Wallaby play-maker but somehow Giteau's hands sprung free and he flipped the ball miraculously to Drew Mitchell who crashed over.

It was Mitchell again who scored the Wallabies second try and that came after some slick passing - the final one being made by George Smith.

At that point the Wallabies were in control, but as the All Blacks have shown all season, they are now a side that likes to work their way into the game.

Australia 14 (D. Mitchell (2) tries; M. Giteau 2 cons) New Zealand 19 (S. Sivivatu, R. McCaw tries; D. Carter 3 pens)

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