Wallabies 27-19 All Blacks
Springboks 25-37 Argentina
Wales 21-35 Ireland
There are two plausible responses to Saturday night’s Rugby Championship decider in Sydney:
1. Panic Now
The whole show is unravelling. Shag’s had four years of developing a pattern and a squad to play it, and the opposition have figured out the weaknesses at exactly the worst moment. Carter is not going to make it, SBW is a busted flush, and the loose trio are past their best. The inside channel defence was pathetic, and we couldn’t complete the line breaks. Worst of all, we got out-thought.
It’s the loss we needed. This is the bitter feast that we need to eat and eat and eat until we’re vomiting anger. We did not want to go into the World Cup pool stage undefeated. And always remember that the team that wins the TriNations/Rugby Championship has never gone on to win the World Cup in the same year. Enjoy that trophy Cobber Cheika, it’ll be good for collecting tears later.
We won’t know the real truth of it until October, so in the meantime I’m going with the full-on despair option because that’s my natural state in a World Cup year. I reckon it’s so bad that I’m polishing my boots in the expectation that Shag’s going to give me a call. I couldn’t possibly play worse than Read and Kaino, so they’d better bloody pull their socks up at Eden Park.
It could be worse: at least we didn’t lose to the Pumas as the Springboks did, and lose their captain to a broken jaw into the bargain. Ouch.
The big winners of the weekend, I reckon, were Ireland. They’re now number 2 on the World Rugby rankings, and can go into the World Cup with all the self-belief in the world.