How the Wallabies must rebound to level the Bledisloe Cup series
The penny may have dropped with the Wallabies accepting nothing less than a polished 80-minute performance on Saturday will stop the All Blacks from retaining the Bledisloe Cup for an 19th-straight year.
Not for the first time during their rampant reign, the All Blacks put the Wallabies to the sword in a crucial 10-minute period either side of halftime in last Saturday night’s 33-25 game-one win in Auckland.
After bagging the first try of the night and pulling the deficit back to 9-8, the Wallabies conceded 14 points with tries after the halftime siren then shortly after the resumption.
It was effectively game over, with even a flurry of three late tries not enough for the Wallabies to get close to winning.
Returning to New Zealand’s Eden Park cauldron, where the Wallabies haven’t won since 1986, Dave Rennie’s men know they must be more alert to the All Blacks’ uncanny knack of striking either side of the break.
“Particularly for us at Melbourne, we felt like we were in most of those games and you come out after halftime and you cop a blow – whether it’s three points, five points, seven points – and all of a sudden you’re on the back foot.
“That was the same on Saturday night.
“If anything, it’s probably a conscious thing that the Kiwi teams are doing. I’d say it’s probably something they talk about and they make a really conscious choice to focus on that part of the game.
“So, for us, it’s about understanding that and that will go a long way in terms of us being able to deal with it.”
Relishing his opportunity at test level since returning from stints in England and Japan a new player, Kellaway was one of the few to excel for the Wallabies, bagging a brilliant try on his starting debut.
But the 25-year-old unselfishly half expects to lose his run-on spot this week to superstar winger Marika Koroibete.
Coach Rennie faces a selection dilemma after dropping Koroibete for the series-opener following a late-night drinking session with teammates Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili at the Australian team hotel in Auckland.
Koroibete is heading to Japan at the end of the year and Rennie could be tempted to look to the future and retain Kellaway ahead of arguably the Wallabies’ most potent attacking player with the Bledisloe Cup on the line.
“Having Marika back is huge for us,” Kellaway said.
“He’s obviously a fantastic player so, if I’m the one who has to make way for him, he’s a pretty handy player to make way for.”
Rennie will name his 23-man squad on Thursday, with the match also doubling as a Rugby Championship opener.
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