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England look in good shape
All Blacks look vulnerable despite win
Posted Nov 08, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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The Autumn Tests were incredible, absolutely fantastic. Each one of them was full of passion, pride and skill and the only disappointment was that all of the Southern Hemisphere nations took the spoils.
Bar a few errors, England matched New Zealand for the most part of their match, Ireland were unlucky not to draw with South Africa after staging a stunning fight back whilst Australia were always in control against the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium.
So let’s start at Twickenham where the All Blacks won 16-26. I had feared England would be overrun and overwhelmed by their visitors but that wasn’t the case at all as they competed throughout. The major difference between the two teams was simple – New Zealand took their opportunities whilst England didn’t.
Had England been able to convert the scoring opportunities they created, then they would have won this match. But that’s the difference between the good teams and the great teams.
When New Zealand smelt blood they went for the jugular and got points on the board. Dan Carter was sensational at fly-half and he dictated a lot of the play whilst debutant Hosea Gear was electrifying on the wing and caused the English all sorts of problems.
One thing that will encourage all the other rugby nations around the world is that the All Blacks looked vulnerable at times and it appears that their defence isn’t as strong as perhaps it could be. As an England fan, I will take heart from this performance and hope that the team continues to improve in their coming fixtures.
As for Ireland, I had tipped them to beat the reigning world champions South Africa but the guys from across the water fell just two points short, losing 21-23.
Ireland struggled early on and several errors saw the visitors storm into a 10-0 lead before Jonny Sexton kicked three penalties in reply to two from Morne Steyn to make it 16-9. Gio Aplon’s score sent the Boks clear and despite a resurgence following the introduction of Ronan O’Gara, the Irish fell just short.
The fixture again highlighted the brilliance of the Irish and the vulnerability that they have in defence. I still think they will be the team to beat during next season’s Six Nations.
Australia produced a stunning attacking display to sweep past the Welsh on Saturday but the Wallabies will be concerned by their deficiencies in the scrum after this action-packed Test.
Although the Aussies deserved their win, Wales will take great heart from this performance and once the likes of full-back Lee Byrne, wing Leigh Halfpenny, centre Jamie Roberts and captain Ryan Jones return, they will know there is a lot more to come from them.
These were three great Test matches and kicked off the series brilliantly. Roll on the next fixtures I say.