Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Bledisloe deadlock serves to draw us in

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Many will say the Wallabies are no chance this weekend after playing with more prowess yet failing to win against a spluttering All Black side. Photo / Getty Images
Many will say the Wallabies are no chance this weekend after playing with more prowess yet failing to win against a spluttering All Black side. Photo / Getty Images

A draw is a beautiful thing. We don't need any golden point to separate the All Blacks and Wallabies if they battle to a deadlock, as they did in Sydney.

There was enough drama in the last few minutes as the Wallabies set an attacking scrum with an array of options to pinch a late win. The All Blacks were up to the defensive tasks, though, as the test wound down.

It was a stalemate, a standoff, a dead-heat. Great.

If it was a match to decide a tournament there would have been room for extra time or golden point or some other contrived formula but this was the first of three tests to decide the Bledisloe Cup.

It's left us in limbo and a state of uncertain interest as we ponder all the possibilities ahead of the second contest at Eden Park.

Many will say the Wallabies are no chance this weekend after playing with more prowess yet failing to win against a spluttering All Black side who were away from home and reduced to 14 men for some of the contest.

The visitors, so the argument goes, will get their rightful beans at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have been unbeaten for two decades against all comers and for 28 years against the Wallabies.

That may be so, but it is a statement tinged with some arrogance when you consider the way both sides have been playing since they last met.

The Wallabies had put together seven successive wins, which is some result in their history, while the All Blacks made hard work of getting past France, England then Ireland on their last tour to Europe. They battled against England in the opening test this winter and leaked late points in the next before easing to a comfortable final test victory.

The undefeated All Black sequence endures, although some of the quality has been variable. That's what you get in most sport; it's tremendously difficult to sustain peak performance.

Think golfers who try to maintain their form, the creme of the football crop at the recent World Cup, and the variations in teams' NRL performances.

There was another intriguing piece in the latest Bledisloe Cup chapter as the All Blacks kept men such as Aaron Smith, Richie McCaw, Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick on for the entire test. Arguably they expend more energy than others because of the demands of their roles yet they stayed on while hooker Dane Coles, who looked strong throughout, was yanked with half an hour left.

Coles was strong at the set-piece and defused one Wallaby threat with great speed and composure and then had time called on him. That decision seemed premeditated, but is preferable to coaches saying rugby is a 23-man game while they pay lip-service to the notion by giving players a few minutes from the bench.

- 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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