Tana Umaga, still basking in the rare glow of victory, has wisely dodged the question of whether an Australian Super Rugby team will beat a Kiwi outfit this season.

The Blues have still to play the Rebels and Reds at Eden Park – an unhappy hunting ground for Umaga's men this year – and, besides, they don't have the wins to be passing judgement on the collective performances of the four strugglers across the Tasman.

But if not the Blues, a hitherto bumbling and at times shambolic mob who looked composed, gritty and disciplined in Sydney against the Waratahs – Australia's best team, no less - then who?

There are 10 New Zealand v Australia Super Rugby regular season matches to come this season and the first couple do not look promising for our cousins across the ditch; the Crusaders v Waratahs in Christchurch next Saturday, and fellow Kiwi high-fliers the Hurricanes against the Reds in Wellington the following Friday.


The streak is currently 38 matches and stretches back to May 27, 2016, when the Waratahs beat the Chiefs 45-25 at Sydney's Allianz Stadium.

It is becoming a huge monkey on the backs of the Australian teams, the supporters of whom, being Australians, like winners.

Heavens knows what this streak will do to the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup chances this year, but suffice it to say it won't help. Australia gave up the cup in 2003 and haven't won it since, a remarkable streak in itself.

The culling of the Western Force from the competition was supposed to help strengthen the depth of Australian rugby but there is no evidence of that yet.

The Rebels, the second best Australian team this year, had a good start to the season but were thrashed 50-19 by the Hurricanes in Melbourne in round seven and looked worse than clueless against the Crusaders at AAMI Stadium on Friday.

The visitors ran in six converted tries in the second half for a 55-10 victory; the last of which came after the final siren and there was a hint of surrender as Manasa Mataele went over far too easily.

Against New Zealand teams the Aussies appear to be mentally fragile, prone to making mistakes under pressure and unable to consistently put the opposition under pressure themselves. There isn't enough direction coming from their playmakers, some of whom are extremely experienced.

There is a certain irony in the Blues having been guilty of these very things recently but being able to hold off the Waratahs 24-21 at Brookvale Oval to focus even more scrutiny on the streak and game in general across the Tasman.

Stephen Perofeta of the Blues offloads in the tackle during the Super Rugby match against the Waratahs. Photo / Photosport
Stephen Perofeta of the Blues offloads in the tackle during the Super Rugby match against the Waratahs. Photo / Photosport

Of all their faults, the Australians' mental state when facing Kiwi opposition appears the most important and Umaga got to the crux of the matter this morning when he said: "The more you make of it the more it plays on your psyche."

This could get a lot worse for the Aussies before it gets better.

"We didn't talk about it," Umaga told the Australian media of the streak in the aftermath of the match. "We've got our own issues we're trying to sort out … but yeah, there's a lot made of it."

Halfback and skipper Augustine Pulu, sitting alongside Umaga in front of the press, added: "We always talk about the inner belief in our circle, and that's all that matters. We just have to stay tight in our circle because we're the only ones who can change things – no one else can."

NZ v Aus Super Rugby regular season matches remaining:

Crusaders v Waratahs, Christchurch, Saturday
Hurricanes v Reds, Wellington, May 18
Waratahs v Highlanders, Sydney, May 19
Chiefs v Waratahs, Hamilton, May 26
Reds v Highlanders, Brisbane, May 26
Blues v Rebels, Auckland, June 2
Blues v Reds, Auckland, June 29
Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra, June 30
Chiefs v Brumbies, Hamilton, July 7
Highlanders v Rebels, Dunedin, July 14