All Blacks wreck Boks’ blue­print

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - JAMIE PANDARAM

THEY’VE fig­ured it out.

The one tac­tic teams hoped would sti­fle the All Blacks’ World Cup chances — the rush de­fence — has been out­ma­noeu­vred by a clever New Zealand side that showed ex­actly why they are favourites to win an un­prece­dented third­straight ti­tle.

The game plan used suc­cess­fully in re­cent years by the Spring­boks, Ire­land, and Eng­land in their one-point loss last year — the rush de­fence — was trumped by Kiwi at­tack­ing in­ge­nu­ity in the win over South Africa in Yoko­hama.

In a three-minute pe­riod in the first half, the Ki­wis piled on an at­tack­ing mas­ter­class that yielded two tries and ex­posed South Africa’s lack of at­tack­ing po­tency — save for dy­namic winger Ch­es­lin Kolbe — that showed you’ve got to be able to punch as well as de­fend the world cham­pi­ons.

The tran­si­tion at­tack of the All Blacks left South Africa reel­ing from the 24th minute.

What the Ki­wis have learned since their up­set de­feats in the past two years is that they must gam­ble, so they did.

They moved the best run­ning five- eighth in the world, Beau­den Bar­rett, to full­back, to give him more space in the face of the rush­ing de­fence, giv­ing pri­mary play­mak­ing du­ties to the more struc­tured Richie Mo’unga.

Few teams would have had the courage to shift their best player from his pre­ferred po­si­tion, but coach Steve Hansen read the tea leaves and bit the bul­let.

The other ma­jor gam­ble was to adopt a more ver­sa­tile back­row to cope with the de­fen­sive pres­sure and add a new di­men­sion to their at­tack; hence the se­lec­tion of open­side flankers Ardie Savea and Sam Cane in the run-on team.

The Ki­wis had long re­sisted the urge to se­lect Savea as a run-on player but his su­perb form in the pre­vi­ous two years, and plans of ri­val teams, con­vinced them to pick two spe­cial­ist open­sides to free-up their wide at­tack­ing chan­nels with tack­lers rac­ing up.

Savea has trans­formed the All Blacks at­tack with his leg drive and abil­ity to cre­ate space out wide, but it is his pil­fer­ing ca­pac­ity, along­side Cane’s, that gives New Zealand the ca­pac­ity to launch counter-at­tacks from any­where on the field.

And it is this fac­tor that can de­liver the All Blacks a third straight Cup — no other side has the abil­ity to turn de­fence into at­tack like the ABs.

This re­sult vir­tu­ally guar­an­tees that the Ki­wis will top their group and play ei­ther Scot­land or Ja­pan in the quar­ter-fi­nals, which would be a walk-up to the fi­nal four.

Any side that hopes to de­feat New Zealand will need to be able to score three or more tries against them, and few have that ca­pa­bil­ity.

Sim­ply us­ing rush de­fence to keep the Ki­wis out and grind out a re­sult is now a fool’s plan, with the All Blacks prov­ing they can out-hus­tle the tac­tic with scin­til­lat­ing counter-at­tack that is now rou­tinely suc­cess­ful against all ma­jor teams.

It is no longer good enough to shut down New Zealand, you’ve also got to out­shine them in at­tack.

And this is a near im­pos­si­ble task with their skill level across for­wards and backs.

In­ter­est­ingly, the most likely team to pull this off is Aus­tralia, when they’re at their best.

But af­ter their first-round win, it looks a long shot for any side to de­rail the All Blacks’ three-peat am­bi­tions.

The All Blacks’ scrum puts the big shove on South Africa’s pack last night. Pic­ture: Getty

New Zealand full­back Beau­den Bar­rett fends off Boks winger Ch­es­lin Kolbe in Yoko­hama. Pic­ture: AFP

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