1 Nov 2020

Bledisloe Cup: all the signs were pointing to a hiding

11:16 am on 1 November 2020

Opinion: Hindsight's a beautiful thing, well at least if you are an All Black fan. For the Wallabies, after a solid month of talk about their so-called new dawn, it will be hitting them like every other Sunday morning hangover on either side of the Tasman.

Sam Cane lifts the Bledisloe Cup. Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match. Australia Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 31st Oct 2020.

Sam Cane lifts the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney last night. Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT 2020

Saturday night's 43-5 demolition job at ANZ Stadium in Sydney was entirely predictable, a masterclass in All Black dominance and confirmation that Australia's trophy cabinet will not need space for the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th consecutive year.

To put that in perspective, the last time the Wallabies had the Bledisloe All Black winger Caleb Clarke wasn't even at primary school. Squad member Tupou Vaa'i was probably still wearing nappies.

Last night was a record win for the All Blacks over their oldest rivals, and pretty much all the damage was done in the first half an hour. This, after weeks of conjecture that this new-look Wallaby side was about to turn the corner after their draw with the All Blacks in Wellington.

Well, they turned it alright, unfortunately for them it was straight into Sam Cane's shoulder and that impact completely knocked the teeth out of their head.

Third Bledisloe Cup Test Match between the Qantas Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. Michael Hooper of the Wallabies. Photo: Photo: Stuart Walmsley / www.photosport.nz

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper looks dejected after the match in Sydney. Photo: Stuart Walmsley / www.photosport.nz

After the loss at Eden Park that could have been put down to the venue famously being an invincible fortress for the All Blacks dating back to 1994, not many had bothered to pick up on the fact that ANZ Stadium in Sydney is actually an even happier hunting ground in recent years.

The All Blacks had scored 134 points in their last three tests there before last night, by halftime that had shot out to 160.

But the real clue that this was going to be one way traffic came back on Thursday, when Dave Rennie named his squad for the match. In came four new caps, but two in the crucial first and second five positions.

On the one hand, it seemed like a massive show of faith in youngsters Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone. On the other, it was a clear indication that this truncated Tri-Nations that was shorn of the world champion Springboks, was little more than a proving ground for the new Wallabies coach.

There is nothing riding on this for Rennie, his job is safe no matter what happens during October and November, so the new players he can use to see if they are up to international standard have been hitting the park almost at will.

A dejected looking Dave Rennie at the post-match press conference. Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match. Australia Wallabies v New Zealand All Blacks. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 31st Oct 2020.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie could not find much to be upbeat about at the post-match press conference in Sydney. Photo: ©PHOTOSPORT 2020

A lot more at stake for Foster

Contrast that to Ian Foster's situation. The Waikato man already had his back to the wall due to the massive public clamour for Scott Robertson to have the top job, so much so his reputation might have taken a potentially fatal blow with even one loss before his first season as All Black coach was done.

He came as close as possible in Wellington, yet has bounced back by retaining essentially the same side for the next two tests.

Unfortunately for the Wallabies, that team has got considerably better. It was all set up for a perfect storm last night in Sydney, and while the rain bucketed down during the game, the thunder and lightning came in the form of the first-half assault by the All Blacks.

Richie Mo'unga put to rest any doubts about his claims to the number 10 jersey, Karl Tu'inukuafe managed to score his first test try, Dane Coles got one but should have had two and Cane continued his destructive mission of defensive domination.

Richie Mo'unga scores his second try in the Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 31st Oct 2020.

Richie Mo'unga turned on a man of the match display in the latest Bledisloe Cup encounter. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2020

The skipper has a penchant for finishing each test covered in blood and used his time on the mic to declare that he would fill the Bledisloe Cup with beer, which was greeted with a loud cheer from the Kiwis in the crowd.

That would have tasted sweet. Down the hall in the Wallaby changing rooms the mood would have been bitter, though. It'll be another long year before they can think about potentially drinking from the famous trophy.

If they go about their campaign like they have with this one they might as well put those thoughts on hold for a few more years anyway.

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