The Wallabies and the All Blacks believe there’s little separating them as the trans-Tasman rivals head to Australia for the final two matches to decide the Bledisloe Cup series. The All Blacks finished the New Zealand leg with a 1-0 advantage after their 27-7 win in Auckland on Sunday after a 16-all draw in the opener in Wellington.
While the hosts were more emphatic at Eden Park, consigning Australia to a 20th straight defeat at the ground, coach Ian Foster was taking nothing for granted before the third and fourth Tests in Sydney and Brisbane on October 31 and November 7 respectively.
“Was it a perfect performance? No, it wasn’t,” Foster said. “There’ll be some things we have to move forward because they’re a good team and now we have to go over there.
“But that’s the level we need to start at and we’ve just got to climb because it’s a tough series.
“This is a better Wallabies team than I’ve seen for a while. They want to stay in the fight, and we had to fight for 80 minutes.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie also believes the difference between winning and losing is a thin line.
“We felt at halftime we’d fallen off a lot of tackles and gifted a bit of ball to the All Blacks,” he said.
“Yet we were only down 10-7, so we thought we were right in it.”
Rennie felt the game could have gone differently, even when the All Blacks scored twice in six minutes to start the second half to lead 20-7.
However, Marika Koroibete couldn’t ground the ball when held up over the line while Brandon Paenga-Amosa was penalised for a double movement when touching down soon after.
Captain Michael Hooper had no doubt the Wallabies were on the right track and that home-ground advantage would help their quest to win the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy for the first time since 2003.
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“Absolutely, there’s a lot to like about our team,” he said.
“The way our staff are preparing us for a game, the way our boys are reacting to what staff are throwing at us, there’s a lot to like here and a lot of hunger.
“We’ll go back home now, you know … two games on home soil.”
The Australians have an injury worry over Matt Toomua, who strained a groin when making a clearing a kick.
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