WHAT WE LEARNED FROM AN OLD-FASH­IONED MIDWEEKER

Manawatu Standard - - Sport - ROBERT VAN ROYEN

OPIN­ION: Let’s kick it off with the game it­self, the sec­ond non-test match of this year’s north­ern tour.

Some will see it like the good old days, when mid­week matches were the norm and so­cial me­dia didn’t ex­ist. But do we re­ally want fewer tests?

At least yes­ter­day’s 28-23 win against a French XV in Lyon was ab­sorb­ing, un­like the more fes­ti­val-feel which came with last week’s match against the Bar­bar­ians.

In­ter­cept

What is it with the All Blacks and con­ced­ing tries via in­ter­cepted passes?

Mid­fielder Ngani Laumape was the lat­est All Black to have a pass picked off and taken the other way, when French flyer Gabriel Lacroix nabbed his pass in­tended for Liam Squire in the first half.

Squire would have had his sec­ond try if Laumape’s floater found him, but Lacroix was all over it and bolted 60 odd me­tres to score.

Mi­nus per­haps con­ced­ing via a charged down kick, there is no worse way to cough up points. It’s some­thing Hansen is no doubt get­ting a tad tired of.

We saw Lima Sopoaga hand Wal­laby Reece Hodge an in­ter­cept try in the lost Bledis­loe Cup match in Bris­bane last month, while Damian Mcken­zie gift-wrapped the Wal­la­bies an early 7-0 lead in Bledis­loe II in Dunedin, where Is­rael Fo­lau was the ben­e­fi­ciary.

Third-string half­back

Bar­ring an in­jury to Aaron Smith or TJ Per­e­nara, half­back Taw­era Ker­rbar­low is likely done wear­ing the All Blacks jersey. Bound for French Top 14 side La Rochelle, the 26-year-old signed off with 69 min­utes yes­ter­day.

So who will be the third-string No 9 as the All Blacks build towards the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan?

Cru­saders half­back Mitchell Drum­mond got his first taste of All Blacks rugby when he re­placed Ker­rbar­low, and is clearly one of the half­backs Hansen has his eyes on.

One test All Black Brad We­ber (bro­ken leg) missed the Chiefs’ 2017 Su­per Rugby cam­paign, but played for Hawke’s Bay in the Mitre 10 Cup and has fea­tured for the NZ Maori on their north­ern tour.

He’s an­other can­di­date, as is Drum­mond’s Cru­saders team-mate Bryn Hall and Blues and Coun­ties No 9 Au­gus­tine Pulu.

Penal­ties

Just days af­ter Hansen took a swipe at his team for giv­ing up ‘‘silly’’ penal­ties in their 38-18 win against France, a string of sec­ond-half penal­ties al­most cost them dearly in Lyon.

Bri­tish ref­eree Luke Pearce sure did get stuck into the All Blacks. Some were fair, oth­ers not so much.

Agree or dis­agree with the yel­low card he dished Jack Good­hue for an ‘‘early tackle’’ in the 68th minute, it’s clear the whistle­blower couldn’t help but be swayed by the vo­cal crowd and the big screen op­er­a­tor at Groupama Sta­dium.

Hansen made it clear what he thought of some of the de­ci­sions, which in­cluded a penalty to the All Blacks be­ing re­versed af­ter Atu Moli was deemed to have ob­structed a de­fender, and the fact the big screen op­er­a­tor was in­flu­enc­ing the game.

Devel­op­ment

For­get the re­sult. Giv­ing a bunch of fringe play­ers a de­cent run was re­ally what this fix­ture was all about.

Mi­nus the late yel­low card, Good­hue didn’t look out of place and there should be no doubts re­gard­ing his fu­ture in the na­tional side.

Drum­mond, first-five eighth Richie Mo’unga, hooker Asafo Au­mua, wing Matt Duffie, prop Atu Moli and flanker Dil­lon Hunt were other fresh faces to get a run, and Hansen was full of praise for them post-match.

It wasn’t just the fresh faces who ben­e­fited. Play­ers such as Lima Sopoaga, Tuip­u­lotu, Squire and Ardie Savea got some much-needed min­utes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.