Take Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga out of the All Blacks and they lose plenty. Take Codie Taylor and Ardie Savea out of the game with first-half head knocks, as happened in Perth, and they lose even more. Then take Jordie Barrett off the field for 20 minutes and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s Christmas. Yet, save for Tate McDermott and Samu Kerevi, the Wallabies were beaten at the breakdown, found wanting with their skill levels, and too loose.
It was likely a worse performance than either of their losses at Eden Park, where they were competitive for long periods but conceded heavily in blocks. In Perth, the errors were spread throughout the 80 minutes in a poor performance that will surely prompt a response, not least at the selection table. In the end, they were fortunate the All Blacks’ poor goalkicking spared them from heavier damage on the scoreboard.
2. There will have to be a change at No 10.
Noah Lolesio’s penalty miss after 27 minutes summed up his afternoon. The Brumbies No 10 is a brilliant prospect but the step up against the All Blacks has probably come too early for him.
Even if James O’Connor is not fit for the Springboks next week, Reece Hodge or Matt To’omua appeal as the better option against the brutal Springboks defence.
The Wallabies did not want for possession, and their scrum muscled up again to give them a platform. The lineout wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t the Achilles heel, either. In other words the tight five did their core roles well, and Darcy Swain brilliantly broke up one All Blacks maul. But all the menace came from No 9 – and No 12 – whereas Beauden Barrett played his best game for the All Blacks in a while.
3. Jordie Barrett red card was simply about ticking boxes.
The first-half red card for Jordie Barrett’s boot to the face of Marika Koroibete was a bizarre incident, although there has been a comparable incident within the past few years. In 2018, then Highlanders wing Tevita Nabura was red carded against the Waratahs for a karate kick to the face of Cam Clark. Yet, while it was easy to see in that incident that Nabura was looking straight at Clark, Barrett’s act was clearly accidental, the result of jumping high and having long levers. Barrett was sent off because the referees were following a World Rugby script, for better or worse.