All Blacks 32 Vs South Africa 12
Watching a replayed game where you already know the result is definitely not as heart palpitating as watching a game live. I finally got around to watching the All Blacks' first test against South Africa after the weekend. It has been heralded as one of the best New Zealand performances of recent times (probably since the 2005 turn against the Lions at the Cake Tin).
I am going to be an old stick in the mud here though and say that watching this game a few days after the dust has settled and all the glowing reviews in the paper have been written, that I thought that the ABs definitely had the rub of the green. I also think the Springboks are beginning to look like an aging side, particularly the forwards who looked a couple of beats behind the pulse of the play. It just goes to show, you are only as good as your last game.
Botha being sent off in the first quarter of the game swung the test around to the ABs way of playing, but before that point, the Springboks had looked rather menacing. After the sending off, they lost their structure and a fired up New Zealand was then able to put on an impressive display of traditional All Black free flowing rugby.
Our execution was very good which has been something particularly satisfying after last year where we often appeared as bumbling idiots. And certain players really shone out (I have to eat my words about Mils Muliaina - he was quite fantastic, but I'm glad I'm getting to eat my words about him).
For me the jury is still out a bit on Nonu - his try was pure luck after he had attempted to kick the ball ahead in the SA 22. The ball bounced off a Bok foot back into Nonu's hands, setting off the move for his try - so he was fortuitous there because it was an initial poor decision. He also seemed to be one of the backs that spilled a bit of pill during the game.
Ditto Joe - he was ok but we need more speed and steam on that wing. It would be good if Guildford got a run out. Piri Weepu made good inroads when he came on for Jimmy Cowan in the second half - and it was nice to see him clearing the ball quickly from rucks as opposed to standing there, waving his arms around like a psychotic conductor for an orchestra (which is often what he rather likes to do).
The best part for me was the fact the NZ forwards seemed to have it over their rivals. Mealamu played a blinder, as did Kaino, Read, McCaw and Brad 'the engine room' Thorne. The two props had good games and it is refreshing to see the Franks brothers take on more around the field as opposed to a certain tweeter who has been dropped by the team.
I thought the Springboks (particularly the forwards) looked tired, old and some of them - fat. (Of course, I will probably have to eat my words again so I say it with the utmost respect). But it seems this team has been around the block for a while now. They reminded me a little of the English rugby team in certain areas - especially when the camera would sweep around on them as they were doubled over panting and sweating. There is not a lot of fresh blood in the SA team at the moment, so maybe the nine week suspension of Botha for his Liverpool handshake on Cowan will be a blessing in disguise if it means some new blood can be injected into the team.
Everyone is of course predicting the great South African comeback in Wellington this weekend - so we will have to wait and see...
That was my two cents emotional analysis of the game - but for something more structured - look no further than green and gold for some expert ruggerblogging.