Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: All Blacks send a 'frighteningly good' message

The All Black messages from the magnificent Dunedin Stadium would have thundered into the living rooms of the Northern Hemisphere.

Some of the work they produced in last night's test was frighteningly good. It was as though they continued on from the portfolio they put together a fortnight ago at Ellis Park.

That was something else and even with the late disruptions of captain Richie McCaw and Cory Jane withdrawing from last night's starting XV, the All Blacks were quickly on the money again.

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They did not have the run of the ground either as the Wallabies had plenty of possession and showed their own streak of fighting resistance.

It was just that the All Blacks produced some rugby which every other team on the planet must covet.

The balance in their armoury is frightening. They can defend, they can take the ball through the centre or they can shift it wide.

They don't mind kicking it downfield to use men like Charles Piutau, Julian Savea and Israel Dagg to chase and harass defenders.

Aaron Cruden directed the diverse plans and one crossfield kick to Savea was perfect execution which delivered the try to Sam Cane.

Another the five-eighths scored was the result of layers of sweeping movement. Forwards rumbled it through the middle and, when the moment came, the backs clicked into the action, all from depth, their passes hit their targets and when Liam Messam had space he could run through a hole to deliver the telling pass. That sort of precision was a great tribute to their skills and the patterns the coaching staff are creating with this side.

Their mantra for this test was to lift or at least repeat the work they had against the Boks. For long chunks they showed a frothing crowd that level of performance.

There were mistakes. Savea delayed a pass a fraction too long for Tevita Kuridrani to intercept in a 14-point play. A couple of times from set play, the Wallabies opened up the All Black defence around new centre Ben Smith and had they held more passes they would have created more damage.

Those moments and some decent Wallaby resistance stopped an early blowout. But the footage must have delivered a succession of 'geez' moments for the staff and players from Japan, France, England and Ireland when they contemplate their approaching test schedules.

It's as if the All Blacks are saying: Whatever you score, we think we can score more. Their attacking attitude is relentless, even when they kick they are looking to attack with their chase defence.

- Herald on Sunday

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