On a special night for Sam Whitelock it was a special performance by his locking partner Brodie Retallick which stole the show.

Nothing unusual in that, for that is how it has been for much of the last seven years. Retallick has been the star billing in the pairing and once again, even on Whitelock's big night, the former's was the performance that was impossible to ignore.

It was a typically high energy, high impact, crunching, bruising performance by Retallick that included a highly memorable dummy and dash to score.

And it was a performance that illustrated the long time it had been in the making. Retallick hadn't played a test since September last year and time out didn't sit well with him.


He's missed the theatre and the conflict. He's missed the chance to impose himself on the biggest stage and he's missed being at his old friend's side.

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And as much as Retallick has missed test football, test football has missed him. The All Blacks were a different team with him back.

They had real drive and horsepower back in the scrum. They had added height and presence in the lineout and of course, they had the world's best middle-of-the-field ball carrier.

All of those factors gave the All Blacks an edge they didn't have in June and it was no doubt the return of Retallick, as well as Kieran Read, that gave the All Blacks the confidence to target the Wallabies' set-piece.

The All Blacks went after the Wallaby scrum. It was a deliberate plan to exploit them there.

The All Blacks were careful to ensure they created the right picture in the first confrontation to convince referee Jaco Peyper that one side was keen to get on with it while the other was looking to dance and dodge.

They also went after the Wallabies lineout. Again, that was deliberate – based on their belief the Wallabies were vulnerable there. They challenged just about every throw and pinched seven.


Undoubtedly the Wallabies were a bit of a shambles as it was in that facet but some of that, or maybe much of that, was caused by the pressure the All Blacks exerted.

The Wallaby jumpers couldn't get free – couldn't find any clear air and it hurt them.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was disappointed at the meltdown in the lineout, but he was just as concerned, if not more so, at the way his side capitulated defensively after they coughed up possession.

That was the harder part for him to stomach – the compounding errors that saw the Wallabies concede tries from nearly all of the mistakes they made.

"Too much ball given back at set piece," said Cheika. "And when it goes against us like that we need to keep the spark in our defence and keep coming and standing up.

"I thought we defended excellently in the first half but not in the second. Without looking at details it is usually things going wrong in one or two areas that accumulate and we were probably a bit slow and they are a good defensive lineout and we let them get into the picture.

"We need to fix that."