Eagles 6 – 74 All Blacks, ChicagoEmbed from Getty Images
On Friday my Nervous Nellie persona got the better of me when I worried about whether a comparatively raw All Blacks unit could impose themselves at Soldier Field.
Twelve tries to none kind of answered that.
The Eagles, ranked 18th in the world, had their limitations exposed. Yes they could hold on to the ball for multiple phases, but they couldn’t penetrate. And they lost a lot of ball in contact. From which the ABs would run in a try with clinical precision and beautiful insouciance.
What we need is a new type of statistic that describes this developing All Blacks’ style. Let’s call it the Lethality Index: how effective you are in turning whatever possession and territory you have into points.
Japan 21 – 61 New Zealand Maori, KobeEmbed from Getty Images
It was a similar story in Kobe, as the Maori defended patiently and then struck lethally. What was really impressive is that the team had basically only been together for two days.
What the Maori victory showed is that the lethal style is embedded in the skill sets and mind sets of all New Zealand professional rugby players. That bubbling depth of talent is the platform for All Black greatness.
Barbarians 36 – 40 Wallabies, LondonEmbed from Getty Images
Michael Cheika’s first game in charge of the Wallabies very nearly ended with an embarrassment.
Leading by 18 points with with less than ten minutes to go, the Aussies let in two converted tries, and in the final phase very nearly let in another.
Sure, it was a makeshift selection for Cheika, but what else is a Baabaas team than makeshift?
Judgment suspended at this stage, while we let him have some time to actually coach the team. The next match against Wales will give some better information. My suspicion is that the Wallabies’ achilles heel – player depth – will be exposed by the time the tour ends with the match against England on 29 November.