All Blacks re-discover ‘their old magic’ - Barnes

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In his Times column Barnes said the All Blacks rediscovered their old magic with 'thumping efficiency up front and clarity behind the scrum.'


The 40-14 win over Australia at Eden Park showed there was enough in their display to remind critics the All Blacks still had the capacity to beat any side in the world on their day.


"A warning: it wouldn't be wise to be overexcited with the dominant display of their pack. France, and even England, will present the All Blacks with more problems than a ramshackle, injury-ridden set of Wallaby forwards," he said.


Some of the All Blacks' back play had been brilliant with the Barrett brothers' tandem a prospect no side would fancy facing.


No luck was involved in how they carved Australia open, but it had only come about because of injuries earlier in the campaign.


The change forced by injuries to David Havili and Quinn Tupaea had worked as Richie Mo'unga pulled the strings at first five-eighths.


"Jordie [Barrett] is a lump and a quick one at that. He ran straight and true. Mo'unga was always advancing on to the next phase. In defensive situations, he was well-placed to take the role of second clearing boot on the rare occasions that Australia pressurised the fly-half.


"On top of his running and kicking game, his distribution was excellent.

"The new 10-12 axis was a success in its own right, but the ambling genius that Beauden added from the back redefined the All Blacks' attacking threat. When he ran, it was elusively, an extra metre of speed in the wide channels to divert Australia and create more space for the outside centre Rieko Ioane.


"But it was the touch and timing of his passes, and the creativity of his kicking game, that caused Australia such problems," he said.


Playing fullback gave Beauden Barrett the chance to choose where he popped up on attack, and Barnes said it was no coincidence that wing Will Jordan was back to his best.


The challenge would be when Havili was fit and whether the All Blacks would revert to earlier selections.


Barnes said Australia were shambolic and a spent force.


"Fully fit, the Wallabies are not to be underestimated but they lack the strength in depth to win the Rugby Championship or, for that matter, the World Cup."


The Springboks had some of the world's best tight forwards, ferocious defence and dangerous runners in the back three, but they were struggling at No8, halfback and first five-eighths and were unable to shape and control Test matches.


November would indicate how next year's Rugby World Cup in France may play out, and Barnes picked the European sides to do well.


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