The All Blacks have made sure they will hold onto the Bledisloe Cup for 2010 with a 20-10 victory over Australia on Saturday night. The win also almost ensures that they will finish atop the Tri-Nations.
The game started at 100 miles per hour and continued in that fashion for most of the game. Two All Black tries along with a Wallaby one, along with a penalty apiece saw the score balloon to 17-10 in the space of just 15 minutes. All indications showed that it would be another very high scoring game as both teams showed no signs of slowing down and continued to play the same running game that has been adopted by the two teams this year.
This wasn't to be the case however, as only one more score came in the game through a Dan Carter penalty in the second half.
Despite there being no tries in the last 65 minutes, there was still plenty of action and the game was definitely not boring as both teams looked dangerous on attack and continued to play the same attacking style at the same pace they had done in the first 15 minutes.
In a game like this, the team that defends the best is generally going to win. Therefore it came as no surprise that the All Blacks came out on top after their defence proved to be a brick wall for the Australians who enjoyed the greater part of the possession and territory. The All Blacks tackled the hearts out, making 110 and missing just 5, which was effectively the winning and losing of the game.
Stand out players were Keven Mealamu, who continues a stellar season, making good metres off the pick and go. The loose-forward trio of Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read all worked well together both on defence and on attack, while Victor Vito played a good role off the bench.
In the backs, Piri Weepu was once again outstanding and must now surely be seen as the number 1 half back in New Zealand. Daniel Carter ran the ball well and fed his outside backs who looked dangerous. Conrad Smith once again showed why he is the world's best centre with yet another top performance on both end of the spectrum.
For the Wallabies David Pocock was the best player, proving to be very efficient at the breakdown and is growing into a class openside flanker. Nathan Sharpe was an effective ball runner and was good in the lineouts. He was the only member of the Australian side remaining from the last Wallaby team to win the Bledisloe Cup in 2002.
Drew Mitchell looked dangerous every time he touched the ball and Will Genia continues to be a dangerous runner around the fringes. They will be pleased to have Quade Cooper back for their next game to provide the X-Factor that they have been lacking in the past few weeks.
The biggest positive of the game for me came from the fact that their were no yellow cards. It seems we are giving yellow cards for offences that thirty years ago, wouldn't have even warranted a penalty. To see a game where the referee let the game flow and let the players sort things out for themselves, was a big relief.
Next week all teams have a week off as they prepare for the South African leg of the tournament which will be undoubtedly hard. The All Blacks are first up, taking on the Springboks at Soccer City in Johannesburg, while the Wallabies will then play two games against the men in green over the following two weeks.
To win over there is a tough ask. But the way the All Blacks have been playing of late, you would be crazy to count them out.