All Blacks win 15-33 v Los Pumas in Argentina.
Los Pumas played well in the first half, but we broke their backs in the second half and found our rhythm. At times it was surprisingly close. It’s been a really tough couple of seasons in the Championship for Los Pumas. They have a chance to go out on a high note with a win against the Wallabies next week.
In order to put one hand on the Championship Trophy, the All Blacks needed to score 4 tries to be awarded a bonus point victory. This places them in a strong position though they will still have to fight for it, especially to avoid the indignity of a Championship win during a loss in South Africa. In practical terms it means that the deciding match next weekend against the Springboks will require the Boks to score not only a 4 tries win, but keep the All Blacks from losing within 7 points. I know the All Blacks will not be content to take the Championship trophy as a mere consolation prize. It’s not in their blood to find comfort in a loss.
All Blacks win 29 – 15 vs Springboks.
The controversial crunching tackle that took Dan Carter out for six weeks. Sadly, the commentators and many critics could not shut up about the yellow card that Bismark Du Plessis received for what was retroactively deemed a legal tackle. However, the second yellow card, right after half time was valid. Du Plessis knows the laws of the game. Two yellows equal an automatic red card. People can cry and complain as much as they like, but Du Plessis ‘ own recklessness let down the team and the fans.
It seems the Springboks think this changed the outcome of the match, in truth the All Blacks were dominant throughout. Few led that domination better than young lock Brodie Retallik. He pushed and shoved his way around the field with frightening authority. To be fair, his Springbok rival, Eben Etzenbeth also had a great game.
I was most impressed with Sam Cane who literally gave blood for his country. Cane kept on fighting after getting stitches in the first half of the game. The reservist, got a mark of respect from legendary 7, Richie McCaw when he shook his hand after the match.
Good times. The All Blacks don’t disappoint their true fans. Fair weather fans will always find something to complain about, however.
All Blacks win 28 – 18 vs Los Pumas.
Richie McCaw leads the Haka for the first time.
Frank Halai get his first start for the All Blacks with a nervous fumble, which he more than makes up for later in the game with a great work rate and moments of magic. There were always going to be a lot of errors in a game drenched in rain. The critics will forget this fact however when they look at the stat sheets.
Highlight: Kieran Read’s brilliant round the back pass to Aaron Smith which set up a Try. Read is a monster. The weight of the All Blacks leadership no longer rests on the shoulders of one man, but many. Among those, Read is set to become a legendary All Black captain in his own right in his current form. He inspires through his actions, leading from the front. Right now, he is a candidate for player of the year.