Right, so after match report. Awesome night out with the family.
We rocked up about 4pm so we could park closish to the ground. Let the boys (9, 4 & 1) play at a playground for a while and then headed into Kingsland to get some dinner.
My wife stood out in a sea of black again. The 1 and 4 years olds were decked in black, and the 9 year old half black half gold in a show of solidarity for her. Got plenty of attention from passerbys on the way to the ground.
When we arrived the Black Ferns had about 30mins left, and the main excitement there was whether they'd crack 100. Was cool seeing them live, they have some fantastic skills and we'll look to get along to a few RWC games. I think Woodman scored like 7 tries lol.
Then the game, freaking awesome. We started slow, and failed to capitalise on a 1 man advantage early on. Wallabies were extremely lucky not to see red there, I'd say if Dalton got injured they would have.
Then after a slightly disjointed start which is probably to be expected with so many changes, the ABs really started getting into their work. We really just ground them down, leading to a lot of penalties our way through pressure and our backline started to show what they can do on the back of that.
I haven't watched the game on TV, and I did have a 1 year old distracting me a bit, but players that stood out live were:
Jordie - just a dominant presence out there in everything he did. Defense, ball in hand, kicking, passing, he was just phenomenal. I remember getting on @Rancid-Schnitzel's bandwagon a few years ago, and thought a midfield combo of Jordie & Rieko is the future. Well the future came to pass, and it was a thing of beauty. Give those guys every game together now until the RWC please.
BBBR - he was back to his best IMO, a number of strong carries, big hits on defense and doing all the dirty work he is known for. Just threw himself around like a fucking maniac and had the Wallabies back peddling for most of the game. Hugely impressive performance from the big man.
Lomax - as with BBBR he was a dominant force out there. After some real concerns with the depth of our front rowers recently we have unearthed some serious talent there now. Great to see.
Rieko - he is so fucking fast, he's an absolute weapon at 13. Don't agree with the calls to put him back on the wing, 13 is perfect for him, gets his hands on the ball plenty and still has space to use his pace on the outside. For one incredible break he made down the touchline where he cut back in instead of finding Jordan outside him, I knew his haters would lose their shit over that, but it was pretty clear Koroibeti had Jordan covered. I thought that showed Rieko's maturity as a player - too often we try to push miracle balls after a break and turn possesion over. I believe we ended up scoring on the back of the territory we made from his break there.
The rest of the forwards - all excellent, nobody had a poor game really. The loosies went well, Dalton and Akira in particular were very strong in the tight, and Ardie always a threat with ball in hand. Sam led the team superbly, De Groot was good though I think he was gassed at times so fitness still an issue. Taylor was good around the park but the lineouts are still a problem.
The rest of the backs - as above, all excellent. Mo'unga is still a bit rocks and diamonds, but I think the more starts he gets the more he'll iron that out. Beauden was superb from the back, injecting himself at the right time. Clarke was near faultless, nullifying lots of high balls (he got applause for a number of his takes under pressure, they weren't easy), defended well and strong with ball in hand. One of the biggest cheers of the night was when he bowled over that Aussie on our own 22. Will "Christian Cullen" Jordan scored a try Cully would have been proud of, and Smith was very solid though I agree he needs to run more
Now I'll rewatch the game and change my mind on 90% of what I said above.
But all in all a great night out and another fantastic performance from the ABs at Fortress Eden. We really missed a trick not playing the decider against Ireland there, we would have won the series 2-1 if we did.
Awesome to have the Bledisloe and RC wrapped up, and really looking forward to the EOYT with our new and improved backline.