Henry delights in Bledisloe Cup triumph
All Blacks coach Graham Henry heaped praise on his side's defensive qualities following their 20-10 victory over the Wallabies that ensured they retained the Bledisloe Cup.
It was somehow appropriate that their latest Tri-Nations victory - that leaves them just one point from reclaiming the southern hemisphere crown - called on All Blacks' grit and tenacity, the hallmarks of a rugby Test from yesteryear. The Bledisloe Cup-lifting effort came less than a week after the death of double All Black Eric Tindill - one of the New Zealand's greatest sports figures, for whom the New Zealand players donned black armbands.
"Last night was just a battle for 80 minutes and the best defensive side probably won the game," Henry said. "Our defence, structurally, was superb I thought. We probably didn't hit as hard in the tackles or win the contests as much as we have but the structure didn't give them opportunity and that was hugely pleasing."
Prompting an even bigger smile was a seventh successive defence of the Bledisloe Cup, the second longest run behind the 11 New Zealand defences from 1951-78. The All Blacks are also a bonus point away from securing a 10th Tri-Nations crown but the coaches and players were in synch over what piece of silverware means most.
Henry suspected the defensive workload -- his team made 110 out of 115 tackles while Australia completed 75 out of 87 -- left their legs too weary to attack in the merciless manner that has marked this year's campaign. That's why a week off before travelling to Johannesburg to face South Africa on August 21 will be of priceless value.
The All Blacks can stretch their winning hex over Australia to 10 Tests with victory in Sydney next month. That would surpass their previous record of nine, which began in 1936, the year Tindill played his sole rugby test.
A general view of AMI Stadium during the 2010 Tri-Nations Bledisloe Cup match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at AMI Stadium on August 7, 2010 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
(August 6, 2010 -All Photos by Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Bledisloe staying in All Blacks country
New Zealand beat an improved Australia outfit 20-10 in Christchurch on Saturday to retain the Bledisloe Cup, but will have to wait a little longer to win back their Tri-Nations crown.
All Blacks beat Australia to dominate TriNations
The All Blacks remained unbeaten in the TriNations with a 20-10 victory over the Wallabies in Christchurch on Saturday even though the Wallabies dominated possession.
The All Blacks are now in a commanding position in the TriNations and are overwhelming favourites to take the title from the Springboks.
The All Blacks have now won thirteen matches in row and are in an excellent position to break the world record of 17 wins held by Lithuania, the All Blacks and the Springboks.
The All Blacks could have almost certainly wrapped up the TriNations with a bonus point victory but the Wallabies managed to contain them and only allowed them to score two tries.
Mathematically the All Blacks can still be overtaken but both teams would need to prevent the All Blacks from securing a bonus point.
The Springboks cannot win the title but Australia can draw level to 19 points but they would need some massive wins as they would need to make up for New Zealand's points differential over them of 79 points.
Ma'a Nonu of the All Blacks fends off David Pocock of the Wallabies
Great defence takes the day yet again
By Sean Fitzpatrick
Well, there's an answer to all those people who keep carping on about the All Blacks peaking too soon.
World Cups of recent times have been won, as we know, by teams with the best defence. Well, what did we see in the second half of last weekend's test match and last night? We saw the best defence.
It was much more of a test match and the Australians came back harder at the All Blacks - as they knew they would. The key point is that they had prepared for that.
To me there's no doubt about it - we are seeing an All Black team where the players are stepping up but the coaches are stepping up too. You have to take your hat off to Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith. They are changing the way this team play every week.
At one stage, the tackle count was 118-65 by the All Blacks, a huge effort.
Whoever is conditioning them is doing a great job and the defensive patterns were fantastic. The All Blacks were better at the breakdowns and had many more people there or with more purpose - whereas, for the Wallabies, David Pocock was a bit of a Lone Ranger and they didn't take their chances.
Anthony Faingaa of the Wallabies is tackled by Ma'a Nonu and Richie McCaw of the All Blacks
Mark Ella: Wallabies unable to crack the black wall
In many ways Saturday's Bledisloe Cup went according to plan with a much better performance from the Wallabies in Christchurch and a result that went the All Blacks' way.
The Wallabies were gallant in defeat but, no matter how much pride they recovered after a lacklustre performance in Melbourne one week ago, the fact is they continue to come second to an All Black side that refuses to give them an inch.
The Wallabies had the greater run of play for much of the game, dominating possession, making the New Zealanders defend for much of the match but, as usual, the All Blacks were up to the task.
Kieran Read of the All Blacks breaks away
Matt Giteau's Wallabies spot under scrutiny after Bledisloe Cup loss
By Darren Walton
Matt Giteau's starting position with the Wallabies is in question as Robbie Deans toys with the idea of deploying an all-Queensland Reds midfield trio against South Africa.
Giteau, a backline mainstay since 2004, won the John Eales Medal last year before being one of Australia's outstanding performers on the grand slam tour of the British Isles.
But a victim of his own versatility and class, the Brumbies fly-half has again come under fire during Australia's up-and-down start to the 2010 Test season, in which they have already surrendered the Bledisloe Cup.
And with first-choice five-eighth Quade Cooper returning from suspension and Anthony Faingaa emerging as a viable inside-centre option, Deans admits Giteau is no longer deemed an automatic starter for the Wallabies.
"Clearly we've got choice now, which is great and the group understands that now,'' Deans said on Sunday.
South Africa vs New Zealand
Johannesburg National Stadium