Beaten in almost every statistical division, All Blacks coach Ian Foster won’t concede they were second-best to the Wallabies in the opening Bledisloe Cup test.
The 16-16 draw in Wellington was an instant classic, Australia bringing the kind of intensity missing from previous outings in New Zealand.
The Wallabies bested the All Blacks in metres gained (525-483), carries (153-91), and passes (190-122).
They also conceded fewer turnovers (20-12) and were forced into fewer tackles (202-105).
Dave Rennie’s side couldn’t make that count where it mattered; on the scoreboard.
From the opening whistle, the Wallabies were up for the contest and were unfortunate to go behind on nine minutes through Jordie Barrett’s opening try.
Foster said the early scoreboard advantage – which the All Blacks held until late in the contest – flavoured the statistics and Australia weren’t the better side.
“I’m not a great believer that possession is the all-important stat,” he said.
“We striked and scored a try and it was really well executed but we were only holding the ball for 20 seconds.
“So it’s not always a great indicator but I think it swung too far in their way.”
The contest has sparked hopes for a closely fought Bledisloe Cup, though Foster – a long term All Blacks assistant – doesn’t share them.
“I kind of liked it the way it was,” Foster said, referring to the 17 straight Kiwi wins, many with him involved.
After the match, Foster invited the Wallabies, including captain Michael Hooper on the occasion of his 100th test, into the All Blacks changerooms.
“We had a great time,” he said.
“We presented something to Michael on his 100th Test match. Players themselves, they know everything that goes into that.
“There was a great feeling in the sheds afterwards and there’s a lot of mutual respect there … we want this to be the way these two countries behave.”
The four-test series move s now to Eden Park, where New Zealand holds a formidable record.
The All Blacks are unbeaten in 43 matches at the Auckland stadium dating back to 1994.
“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this but it has always felt like our home ground,” he said.
“There’s always been a lot of big tests, so it’s got a lot of history.
“Does it help us beyond that? It doesn’t help us at all.
“What’s going to do the business next weekend is this All Blacks team, learning from a 16-all draw, taking the good stuff out … and growing some other parts of our game.”
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