PROMISING START FOR ALL BLACKS –  HOPEFULLY NOT A FALSE DAWN

On face value the All Blacks 41-12 win over Argentina in Mendoza last weekend was a pretty good start to the Rugby Championship and more importantly as part of their World Cup buildup.

OUTSTANDING DISPLAY FROM DAMIAN MCKENZIE

The most pleasing aspect was the solid work of the forwards, led by prop Ethan de Groot, Scott Barrett and flanker Shannon Frizell up front.

After a hiccup at the start Damian McKenzie had a fine game running the cutter from first five and outside of him centre Reiko Ioane cut the Argentine defence to ribbons on occasions although his defensive stats, making five out of 10 tackles gives him something to work on. 

Also bear in mind this Argentine team was poor. They looked ill-prepared both cohesively, emotionally and physically as opposed to the All Blacks who really hit the ground running having been traditionally slow starters to the test season.

ETHAN DE GROOT - THE PILLAR THE SCRUM'S BUILD ON

There are obvious changes of tactics from last year and thank goodness for that. The aimless box kicking appears to have been ditched. McKenzie played nice and flat and was a constant menace, the backs had a crack when it was on and produced some brilliant tries none better than when the Barrett boys, at least two out of the three of them, Jordie and Beauden combined for Beauden to score.

The forwards were direct and physical and although the second half was more even this game was over as a contest by halftime.

ATTACK BRILLIANT, DEFENCE NOT SO - REIKO IOANE

The real gauge on how the All Blacks are tracking comes on Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland where they host the World champion Springboks team, a large number of whom went to Auckland early missing last week’s  41-12 romp over the Awful Aussies to prepare.

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber named nine fresh faces in his 23 to play in Auckland with lock Eden Etzebeth captain in place of number eight Duane Vermeulen, one of six forwards on a powerful bench.

Regular skipper Sila Kolisi is recovering from injury.

One thing was clear from the Springboks demolition against the Wallabies is that not only to they remain a powerhouse up front but have brilliant backs and seem much more prepared to use them as they did in their World Cup final win over England.

Former Marlborough Red Devils and King Country loose-forward Greg Brimble and myself (John Alexander) discuss the All Blacks opening performance of the season and we review another fine win by the World champion Black Ferns after they beat Canada in a Pacific Four match in Ottawa 52-21, a much tougher battle than the previous week’s 50-0 rout of Australia.

The Black Ferns victory all but clinched them the title and this weekend they face USA who were beaten by a much improved Aussie outfit 58-17.

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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