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Lots of positives for the Wallabies, but plenty of work-ons remain

Another refereeing blunder?

Looking at social media last night, you would have thought the All Blacks committed some atrocity in their 49-14 Third Test win over France in Dunedin.

Actually, it was referee John Lacey who committed the atrocity by running blocker on Baptiste Serin from a scrum move allowing Damian McKenzie a clear run to score under the posts.

It was another disgraceful refereeing episode in the French series with even the New Zealand commentators lamenting “not again”. But even taking out this try, it was a well-deserved win for the All Blacks. They were precise and clinical and they looked like the number one ranked team in the world.

A highlight for me was the All Blacks’ driving maul try from a lineout in the 22nd minute. The All Blacks faked a throw to the back and instead pitched a simple lob to the front man with no jump before driving over. They turned this super coach Under 15 play into a piece of brilliance.

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Rain, hail or shine

Australian sports fans are a tough crowd.

If the Wallabies lose every week fans don’t show up or watch on TV. If it’s cold and wet they don’t show, and if the Wallabies win by 50 every week they don’t turn up either.

Conversely, All Blacks supporters just seem to love watching their team smashing the opposition week after week and turn up in big numbers. Reminds me of a mid-week Wallaby match I played in Ebbw Vale, Wales.

It was minus five degrees at least, the wind was cyclonic with driving sleet rain which was hitting you horizontally with the force of a body punch. As I signed a match program after the game for one of the thousands of Welsh supporters, I asked “why did you turn up, I would be home in front of the fire”, the reply I received was “well you know, nothing else to do around here”. Welcome to Wales.

Too close to call

What a great Test match in Sydney last night.

Both the Irish and Wallabies turned up to play and it came down to the final moments, with the Irish getting up 20-16 in front of a capacity crowd.

You could not pick a winner before the game, it was a 50/50 bet. The Wallabies were the better side in the first Test, the Irish the better team in the second.

At the end of this one, the Wallabies were simply not precise enough in their execution. The Irish had a bit of luck with some decisions and Sexton’s boot got them over the line.

The Wallaby scrum was superb again and really has come a long way, to be rock solid against two British and Irish Lions front rowers and put pressure on them was great work.

The Wallaby lineout is inaccurate and is under pressure a lot, this needs to be fixed. Mauling is really a forgotten art in Australia; players don’t learn it at school, club or provincial level then the Wallaby forwards coach has to teach a very complex skill in a matter of weeks.

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You saw the Irish driving maul like an arrowhead with just three players at the front with the pack slotted in behind slicing through a spread of five Wallaby forwards. You have to match this narrow concentration of power to stop a driving maul. Occasionally the Wallabies do get it right, but definitely the lineout and maul will be seen as areas to attack the Wallabies.

The tackle contest was more even this week, with the Wallabies able to halt the continuous quick recycle ball of the Irish.

Pocock again made some superb turnovers whereas last week he was the mystery man on the field, with the Irish able to cancel him out of the game.

Hard to pick a driving tackle last week or a double team on the Irish ball carrier but there were plenty last night and the Irish were denied the gain line on many occasions. Last week in Melbourne they strolled over the gain line with prop Tadhg Furlong a highlight with his big runs.

What to do with a very competent Wallaby backline in this modern game?

Opposition rush defence really cancels out Australia’s obsession with flat backline attack. I really need to have a chat with Bob Dwyer about this.

The Randwick inspired flat backline attack that has been the hallmark of Australian backline play for 30 years. The modern game in Australia has descended to tackle then use the width of the field from every play. Very few runners form depth and there is very little attack through the ruck or near it. I am surprised the Ireland Coach Joe Schmidt did not attack the centre of the Wallaby ruck, I am sure the All Blacks will.

Well done to the Irish, I bet they had a great night in Sydney last night “on the craic” with their supporters.

I think the Irish were deserved Lansdowne Cup winners and the series win tops off a great year for them with their Six Nations Grand Slam as well.

The Wallabies have a lot of positives to come out of the Test series but still have plenty left to work on. The Wallabies can go into the Rugby Championship with some confidence and on their day if every little thing goes right, they Wallabies may even give the All Blacks a run.

In other news:

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