Rugby union comment: Both Wales and England again failed to hold up the Southern Hemisphere ascendancy last weekend and both live in hope as the final Saturday of the series, which falls outside the international window, sees Wales hosting Australia and England entertaining New Zealand.
The greatest disappointment from last weekend, purely from a rugby point of view, was that the game currently is not able to deal with the type of blatant offence conducted by New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore in the first minute of this match when he punched Welsh lock Bradley Davies.
This was not seen by the referee or his assistant. For all the beauty and fluidity of the All Blacks’ game, there also exists a level of brutality that should be outlawed instantly. How did New Zealand lose out when an incident like this occurs? The player is cited after the match and may receive an extended suspension. But what advantage is there to the team that has been on the receiving end of the attack?
It is they who have to introduce a lesser player possibly not in his specialist position and this can alter their whole strategy. Wales, on Saturday, had to send on a flanker in Aaron Shingler and move Ryan Jones to lock, not his specialist position.
New Zealand have enough depth to overcome a situation like this. It would be sensible to allow incidents of this nature to be reported to the television match officials at half-time so at least the player can be dealt with officially and there can be an actual cost to the offending team.
Alternatively it would be appropriate for video evidence to be used to assist the match officials in incidents of this nature. The All Blacks should have played the bulk of this match with 14 players.
One cannot fail to praise the skills-based game that the All Blacks have developed in recent years. All the rest of the world are some way behind them, but our respect for them has been dissolved by one player’s lack of discipline and the inability of the game to deal with incidents like this.
There was a better second-half display by Wales, but this can be attributed to a number of substitutions by the Kiwis.
However the home side did compete more effectively in the final half hour scoring two tries to New Zealand’s one, including their outrageous all-in lineout which included 13 players into the set piece.
New Zealand didn’t know how to defend this situation. While the Kiwi three-quarters scratched their heads, Wales formed their all-in lineout and, as long as they were able to win the set piece, they were sure to score. We are likely to see this again at some stage unless the lawmakers decide to outlaw it first.
England will need to be at their very best to match the New Zealand threat at Twickenham on Saturday. They may match them in physicality, territory and possession but not in clinical efficiency in taking scoring chances from anywhere on the field. The All Blacks have developed, throughout their team, an ability to commit others to the tackle and continually translate overlaps into tries.
In terms of the 2015 World Cup a win for Wales in their final autumn match against Australia is crucial to keep them in eighth place in the world rankings and stop them dropping into third tier status.
They lost 3-0 to the Aussies Down Under in the summer months and showed only a glimmer of improved form last weekend.
Theirs, nevertheless, is the likelier opportunity for a northern hemisphere victory on this coming weekend.
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