Awesome afternoon of rugby (day rugby is so much more enjoyable!!), and so good to finally get along to a test again.
With a 7 year old, 2 year old and a wife 30 weeks pregnant we were not keen on the idea of public transport so we drove to the ground at around 1PM so we could park close(ish). By 1.30 all parks within cooee were gone so we were glad we got there nice and early. Had a picnic, let the boys play for a bit, then made a leisurely stroll down the road to the game.
Wife was decked out in her Wallabies gear, standing out in a sea of black, bless her. A tough afternoon for her lads thankfully, and the 7 year old let her know ALL about it haha.
Atmosphere was great, especially when the ABs clicked into gear after 15 or so minutes. That was an improved performance as you would expect, albeit in far better conditions which helped some of our players thrive.
Best moments of the afternoon was when they brought up Eroni Clarke on the big screen a couple of times. The second time was right after Clarke's epic run that set up Ardie's try and he got such a massive cheer he had to acknowledge the crowd. He looked proud as punch.
Some random thoughts on the game, bearing in mind I haven't seen it on TV:
- I thought 20 points flattered us; but for some more clinical finishing from Aus it could have been a damn sight closer.
- Aus picked up where they left off last week and dominated the first 15. It was only individual brilliance from Beauden and then Clarke that kicked us into gear. It does feel like we are still too reliant on that to get into a game, better defensive sides won't allow that to happen so easily.
- On Clarke, fark me what a performance from the 21 year old. He looks made for test footy. It's highly likely Bridge would have got the nod again if not injured, and without Clarke the ABs would have once again lacked the firepower needed to break open the test. The selections are going to be an ongoing concern with Foster at the helm.
- RM is electric in broken play, which is why I like him on the bench coming on against tired legs. In a tight test he doesn't lead the team around the park, and as we found out last week if the conditions are difficult he can be found wanting big time. That said, Beauden is not exactly well suited to the role either, but he has a damn sight more experience trying. Fact of the matter is we don't have a 10 that can really take control of a game when the opposition defense has come to play like we did with DC.
- Beauden was simply superb in the first half, which helped take some pressure off RM who grew into the game and had some fantastic touches to set us away.
- Frizzel is a very solid player but he doesn't seem to possess the power Akira does. I really hope they give Akira a good crack as he has the potential (only that right now) to be our next Kaino.
- Coles made a real difference and is back to his best (which is better than Taylor's ceiling). Great to see after his serious injury concerns a year or so back.
- ALB is a fantastic all round player and solidifies our midfield big time. He needs to be 12 with JG 13. I can only assume they have JG closer in to help defend the channel as RM is a bit of a liability there.
Overall a really enjoyable game in the sun with both teams willing to play attacking footy. Still a lot of question marks over this AB side, and I can see some very squeaky bum times ahead in Sydney and Brissie, but nice to keep the Eden Park fortress in tact with a comfortable win in the end.