The immediate release of satisfaction was widely evident from the All Blacks following their record victory over the Wallabies as they strutted around Sydney’s ANZ Stadium and savoured gulps from the Bledisloe Cup.
Professional sport is a high pressured cauldron at the best of times. When the All Blacks don’t get it right, as was the case in their draw with the Wallabies four weeks ago, scrutiny reaches fever pitch.
It’s little wonder, then, after thumping the Wallabies 43-5 to record the biggest winning margin against Australia that the All Blacks allowed themselves a moment to take their foot off the gas and enjoy the first major triumph of Ian Foster’s reign.
“It’s a pretty happy changing room in there at the moment,” All Blacks captain Sam Cane said proudly after locking away the Bledisloe for an 18th straight year. “We’ve just filled her up.”
There’s plenty of time to cast ahead to next week, and the fourth instalment of this year’s Bledisloe series which doubles as a Tri-Nations encounter in Brisbane.
Here’s something Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga prepared earlier.ADVERTISEMENT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 31, 2020
For now, though, the All Blacks deserve the plaudits for their compelling first-half dismantling of a Wallabies side that, but for the Wellington woodwork, almost pulled off a stunning upset in the first test of the year.
“The trophy is really important to us and we care a lot about it,” Cane said. “I’m so proud of the work we’ve put in over the last five or six weeks building up to this moment, this is what it’s all about. I feel we’ve improved every single week and I’m really excited about where this group could go.
“One thing I’ve always admired about the Aussies is they’ll pick themselves up again next week with a similar confidence and attitude. We’ll really enjoy tonight and all the hard work that’s gone into getting us here and then we go again for next week.”
For All Blacks coach Ian Foster the six-tries-to-one result offered vindication on many fronts. Tactically his side were superb in the way they repeatedly targeted the short side and exposed the Wallabies through a variety of deft kicks.
Foster has been under intense pressure since assuming the head coaching role from Steve Hansen but even his most staunch critics will be forced to swallow some humble pie after this utterly dominant performance.
“It’s very satisfying. We’re ecstatic and they’ll be dejected and that’s test rugby isn’t it,” Foster said. “We saw in Wellington a really tough Wallabies team; we saw that at Eden Park too and we saw it today but it probably wasn’t long enough for their liking and we were able to subdue it when we needed to.
“The only reason you really enjoy winning trophies like this is because you’ve got a fear factor for the opposition and we legitimately have that. To come out the other side, we’re delighted.”
With the forward pack laying a near impeccable platform, Foster praised the game management of Richie Mo’unga after the Crusaders playmaker scored two tries and collected 23 points in his best performance for the All Blacks.
“Sometimes we’re guilty of overplaying situations but in the wet and the way the game went that’s probably the area I was most proud of.”
The much-debated Beauden Barrett-Mo’unga dual playmaking combination came up trumps on this occasion, too.
“They played really well together. I know there’s a lot made of that but there’s also a few numbers in jerseys in between those guys that are a key part of that group. For Richie it’s probably one of the best game management games I’ve seen him play for us for a while. Beauden is a class player whether he is 10 or 15. It was pretty cool to see him step in at 10 and do a chip kick for Richie to score.
“The fact is we’ve got two good options there so it’s pretty exciting.
“We’ve got to respond from a victory and make sure we get our feet on the ground really quick. Suncorp has always been a great challenge and now we’ve got another trophy to focus on and that’s the Tri-Nations.”
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