Heat goes on SBW

first_imgPhoto: PHOTOSPORT Caption: Sonny Bill Williams’ shoulder charge on Anthony Watson during the Lions series has not been forgotten by the UK press Bumbling Sonny Bill Williams and brilliant Beauden Barrett grabbed the focus from an “extraordinary” Bledisloe Cup test as British media continue to put the microscope on the All Blacks.The northern interest in the performance of Steve Hansen’s side as only intensified in the wake of their drawn series with the British and Irish Lions.And the British press couldn’t have found a more contradiction to the tight tussle with the Lions than the 10-try extravaganza in Dunedin where the All Blacks sealed their comeback win two minutes from the finish with Barrett scoring.”Ten tries and a final quarter in which the lead changed hands on five occasions. You will see few more extraordinary test matches,” Stuart Barnes wrote in the Sunday Times.Barnes, a former England No 10 and ardent admirer of the All Blacks, felt the final flourish that featured skipper Kieran Read and Barrett in a sublime interchange of passes was appropriate … “It was the All Blacks at their brilliant best. Two of the star men shining when it most mattered. Classic Kiwi support lines.”But there wasn’t much praise for Williams who had been the villain of the Lions series, being sent off in the second test defeat in Wellington.Williams’ error-riddled performance in Dunedin didn’t go unnoticed. Normally sure of hand, Williams had a forgettable night to cap off a difficult week where he had been part of a concussion controversy from the big win in Sydney seven days earlier.”Galvanising as the game was, that cannot be said for all aspects of their performance. In the open field the All Blacks were far from vintage. Sonny Bill Williams played like a would-be classical pianist burdened with a shifter’s fingers and thumbs. Four fumbles in the first seven minutes might be some sort of test match record for an inside centre.”But enough of the negatives. The inaccuracy of New Zealand’s back play was balanced by the overwhelming power of their pack. Aaron Smith thrived behind them.”The Sunday Times were also quick to liken the Black Ferns’ remarkable comeback win against England in the Women’s Rugby World Cup final in Belfast to the dazzle on display in the Bledisloe Cup.”Kingspan stadium was a worthy setting for a World Cup final and easily the two best teams in women’s rugby served up a worthy contest, with almost as many shifts and twists as the brilliant affair in Dunedin earlier in the day between the All Blacks and the Wallabies,” Peter O’Reilly wrote.”Preconceptions and assumptions were shattered, too. If you’d told us before the game that a New Zealander would score a hat-trick, we’d have assumed you were talking about Portia Woodman, easily the tournament’s top try-scorer with 13 going into yesterday’s game.”But no, it was their loose-head prop, Toka Natua, who crossed England’s try-line thrice, all in the space of 20 minutes, showing power and great footballing awareness. Being a Kiwi, she also showed that she knew the laws of the game. For the third try, she knew to place the ball in the tackle and then go again once released.”New Zealand are deserved champions because they managed to hurt England close in and out wide. England managed to shut down Woodman, as they had done on a drizzly night in Rotorua in June, but in Selica Winiata, they discovered another threat. The full-back popped up for a try in each half and produced outstanding athleticism to keep the ball in play.”What was most impressive, however, was the Black Ferns’ ability to recover from a disastrous 20-minute period before the break when they lost Sarah Goss to the sin-bin and then proceeded to concede 17 points.”The Kiwis dominated possession and territory in the final quarter and won through. They have the most skilful players and a will to succeed that is frightening. Best of all, they seemed to enjoy themselves.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *