The penny may have fallen, with the Wallabies agreeing to nothing less than a polite 80-minute performance on Saturday will prevent the All Blacks from retaining the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year.
Not for the first time in their frenzied reign, the All Blacks put the Wallabies to the sword in a crucial 10-minute span either side of halftime in Saturday night’s 33-25 win in Auckland .
After scoring the first try of the evening and reducing the deficit to 9-8, the Wallabies conceded 14 points with tries after the siren of half-time and then shortly after the resumption.
It was indeed the end of the game, even a flurry of three late tries was not enough for the Wallabies to get closer to victory.
Back in the cauldron of Eden Park in New Zealand, where the Wallabies haven’t won since 1986, Dave Rennie’s men know they need to be more mindful of the All Blacks’ weird talent in hitting either side of the break.
“We saw it all through the trans-Tasman Super Rugby stuff, the 10 to 15 minutes after halftime was where a lot of Australian teams lost it,” Wallabies winger Andrew Kellaway said on Monday.
âParticularly for us in Melbourne, we felt like we were in most of those games and you come out after half time and you take a hit – whether it’s three points, five points, seven points – and all of that. suddenly you’re on the back foot.
âIt was the same on Saturday night.
âIf anything, it’s probably a conscious thing the Kiwi teams are doing. I’d say it’s probably something they’re talking about and they’re making a really conscious choice to focus on that part of the game.
“So for us it’s about understanding that and that will help us a lot in being able to deal with it.”
Savoring his opportunity at Test level since returning from stints in England and Japan as a new player, Kellaway was one of the few to excel for the Wallabies, winning a brilliant try on his starting debut.
But the selfless 25-year-old half-back expects to lose his stint this week against superstar winger Marika Koroibete.
Coach Rennie faces a selection dilemma after dropping out of Koroibete for the series opener after a late-night drinking session with teammates Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili at the Australian team hotel in Auckland.
Koroibete will travel to Japan at the end of the year and Rennie might be tempted to look to the future and keep Kellaway ahead of arguably the Wallabies’ most powerful offensive player with the Bledisloe Cup on the line.
âMarika’s comeback is huge for us,â Kellaway said.
“He’s obviously a fantastic player, so if I’m the one to make room for him, he’s a handy enough player to make room for him.”
Rennie will name his 23-man squad on Thursday, with the match also serving as the opening of the rugby championship.