While a Bledisloe Cup triumph in 2020 is a long shot, there’s been enough in Dave Rennie’s short reign to show Australia can become a force again.
While a Bledisloe Cup triumph in 2020 is a long shot, there’s been enough in Dave Rennie’s short reign to show Australia can become a force again.

Now isn’t time to jump off Wallabies bandwagon

Whatever patience Australian rugby fans had left after a 16th successive Bledisloe Cup loss last year, that was reignited after last week's draw, must not be discarded after Sunday's defeat at Eden Park.

Yes, the Wallabies are unlikely to win the Bledisloe in 2020.

But they are showing the beginning of something.

This is a team that can certainly grow into a huge global force by the 2023 World Cup.

How many supporters hold the line until then is a different issue.

The wins will bring them back.

But if the Wallabies can't tackle Caleb Clarke or Beauden Barrett or hold their own ball then more will fall off the wagon before some climb back on.

Fifteen minutes separated the teams, but the gulf between them from the 40th to 55th minute mark was enormous.

The All Blacks were unstoppable, imposing, breathtakingly brutal in their execution of counter-attack and turnover raids.

Australia is not capable of this level of rugby - yet.

They could be, judging by the signs.

They have lifted their level of skill significantly; the running lines are sharper, their set-piece is slightly more reliable. And they show more fortitude.

Richie Mo'unga's 55th minute conversion of Sam Cane's try was the final scoring act of the game, making it 27-7.

Ardie Savea celebrates a try during New Zealand’s 27-7 win.
Ardie Savea celebrates a try during New Zealand’s 27-7 win.

Previous incarnations of the Wallabies team would have conceded more.

Their scrum began to go backwards. They struggled to mount pressure with lost ball. But they didn't concede again.

That gives a strong indication of resilience, pride and a new sense of fight.

The remaining 65 minutes of the game was relatively even. Both teams made errors and failed to capitalise on opportunity.

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Rookies like Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson, Filipo Daugunu and Liam Wright have plenty of Test rugby ahead of them.

Jordan Petaia is not perturbed by the reputation of any All Black, showing he could match it with the best at Eden Park in his cameo off the bench.

James O’Connor lays a crunching tackle.
James O’Connor lays a crunching tackle.

The Wallabies' lineout was markedly improved from the previous week - Brandon Paenga-Amosa handling the pressure of starting his first Test in two years.

The defensive patterns worked fine until the simple one-on-one misses crept in.

That should be a relatively easy fix for defence coach Matt Taylor and head coach Dave Rennie.

True, Clarke is a 107kg monster who was able to clock 11 seconds for the 100 metres when he was only 15 years old.

But you can choose not to kick to the 21-year-old, or better align your chase when you do.

Australia was unlucky not to score a second try in the game; twice they were held up.

They've shown enough in the first two Tests of Rennie's tenure to suggest there is a special mix brewing.

Rennie will need to tinker with the ingredients, and this will be a slow cook, but don't stew on this result Wallabies fans. It's just the entree.


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