Lack of intensity, discipline telling in bad loss for Foster’s men

All Blacks captain Sam Cane cuts a forlorn figure after their shock loss to Argentina. Photo:...
All Blacks captain Sam Cane cuts a forlorn figure after their shock loss to Argentina. Photo: Getty Images
A day is a long time in sport. Two weeks must seem a lifetime ago for coach Ian Foster.

Way, way back - actually only the last day of last month, the All Blacks racked up their biggest win over the Wallabies.

Now, in two weeks, the side has lost to the same team and then recorded its first defeat to Argentina.

One could argue this is international sport and in these crazy times, upsets are possible. Likely even.

Just look at the English Premier League football table. Scotland making the European Football Championships. And North Macedonia. As an aside - does anyone know where North Macedonia is?

But we are talking about the All Blacks.

All about the legacy, the absolute foot on the throat of any opponent, the drive to succeed, the no compromise on anything.

The All Blacks are built on excellence, putting out a performance of the highest quality every week.

But not at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.

It was a shameful exhibition by the boys in black.

The sad thing for the All Blacks was the side was just completely outplayed by the Pumas. There were one or two marginal calls but nothing drastic which would have turned the game.

The All Blacks plainly and simply just did not deserve to win. The side was a long way off.

The attack from the All Blacks was poor. The intensity was not good enough. The composure and coolness under pressure was missing in spades. The discipline - like a kindergarten class on an outing to the candy shop.

The All Blacks looked like the Kiwis - not to slur the Kiwis. But it was more of the 13-man game than the 15-man game from the All Blacks, running into an Argentinian side which could have tackled until the cows came home. Then the last-resort kicks which mostly went nowhere.

The defence from the Pumas was good but it is not difficult when the opposition does not run angles and signposts its attack seemingly in bright neon lights.

Caleb Clarke was rightly lauded for his efforts in the first two tests but he needs to realise running over the man is not the only option. Finding the space and getting a man free is way better.

But Clarke is not alone in that regard. This is a plague on the game in New Zealand these days. The way to initiate the contact rather than look to the outsides.

Go to any game, anywhere in this country and players no longer know how to draw and pass. They try to beat the last man and then pass - if they have to. It is creeping into even the top level now.

Foster appears to be backing a power game and that is not a bad option. But power only goes so far. Brains win out.

That was the most depressing part of the whole effort. The Pumas just out-thought and out-passioned the All Blacks.

Questions loom over coach Foster and captain Sam Cane. And they will for some time.

That is what happens when the All Blacks lose. And lose badly.

The moment it doesn’t is when the All Blacks are no longer the All Blacks we know.

 

Comments

Looks like the All blacks just might not be the number one team in rugby anymore. It's been a commendable run but as more countries around the world discover rugby more talent enters the pool. Face it, larger countries will have more money, better players and bigger programs that will eventually surpass what we have here. Argentina has made a tremendous turn around in the last 4 years. They simply outplayed and outclassed the all blacks. Things like Dane Cole slapping an Argintinian player in the face for no reason don't garner any sympathy for the gradual demise of the team. A thrashing like this should teach them to be a little more humble in the way they treat other teams on the field.

Attendance trophy syndrome kicking in. Taken a few generations, but here we are. Raelene will give us all a hug.

 

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