New Zealand vs. Australia: Winners and Losers from Bledisloe Cup
The All Blacks’ bid for an 18th straight victory was thwarted in a wet Stadium Australia, where they battled to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies.
This was in no way reminiscent of the try-packed, thrill-a-minute rugby we witnessed in the Super Rugby competition, with the weather and a high error count on both sides turning this Test into a dour, attritional affair.
Here are the winners and losers from the opening Bledisloe Cup contest.
Loser: Wyatt Crockett
Wyatt Crockett was in for the injured Tony Woodcock and wouldn’t have done his chances of making the loose head spot his for keeps any favours after picking up a silly yellow card for blatant offside.
Crockett’s departure handed the initiative to the Wallabies, and he was perhaps fortunate that they didn’t take the chance to go for goal and punish his indiscretion to the full.
He didn't return after his 10 minutes in the sin bin were up, which may hint toward a change in the All Black front row next week.
Loser: Michael Hooper
Two questionable decisions at the end of the first half by Michael Hooper not to go for a shot at goal ultimately denied Australia a famous win.
Hooper does much right as a rookie captain, but in a tourniquet-tight contest like this, he will probably be regretting not ordering Kurtley Beale to try for three points.
First there was an easy three on offer following a lineout deep in All Blacks territory. Beale was off and running before Hooper could take command of the situation.
Then, following Wyatt Crockett’s infringement, he again chose not to try for three points. In hindsight, both look to be the wrong decision.
They may have come off the field feeling aggrieved not to have won a drab game that they had the better of, but there is still one reason for them to feel as if they have won.
The Wallabies are in the fight for the Bledisloe Cup. It has been many years since they were not behind the eight-ball following the first contest between these two, so they can at least advance to the return in Auckland knowing they are very much still in the hunt.
Winner: The Weather
Let’s face it, in a game where the backs were virtually forced into the role of spectators by the foul conditions, the wet weather was the only winner.
It is rare that a contest between these two ends without a try on the scoresheet, and although Australia battered away at the end, you can really only point to the weather as the reason for what was ultimately a poor spectacle.