Press: Australia are genuine World Cup contenders

New Zealand media have slammed the All Blacks saying that they deserved to
lose Rugby Championship decider while Australia’s Wallabies have become “genuine
World Cup contenders”.

The Wallabies only needed a draw to win their first Rugby Championship title
but outscored the All Blacks by three tries to two and finished with a 27-19
victory after trailing 19-17 with 14 minutes to go.

The Test rugby victory gave the (then) world’s fifth-ranked side a clean sweep of
the southern hemisphere championship, beating the world’s top two sides New
Zealand and South Africa as well as Argentina as they build for the World Cup
starting in England next month.

“Now they are genuine World Cup contenders after being just the second
side to beat the All Blacks in the last two seasons,” the Herald on Sunday
said.

Their rugby correspondent Gregor Paul said Australia were the better team “pure
and simple. They won because they played better rugby and took their chances”
against a “flustered” New Zealand unit.

“The All Blacks weren’t ruthless and clinical. The Wallabies were,”
he said. “The mighty All Blacks were a bit rattled and will no doubt have
invited everyone to come at them hard at the World Cup.”

Radio New Zealand described Australia’s first win over New Zealand in 11 Tests
since 2011 as a “dark night” while Fairfax Media highlighted the All
Blacks’ failure to control the key battle in the forwards.

They were “out-muscled at scrum time, beaten at the breakdown” where
Australia successfully experimented with dual opensides Michael Hooper and David
Pocock.

“Pocock got the turnovers and Hooper did the tackling, several of his
low missiles coming at crucial junctures. The All Blacks were simply not accurate
enough with ball in hand or at the ruck,” Fairfax rugby writer Toby Robson
said.

Problems evident within the All Blacks when they scraped home 27-20 two weeks
ago against South Africa were not corrected as “ball retention was proving
an issue”.

Former All Black Richard Loe, in his Herald on Sunday column, said it was “a
poor All Blacks performance” with catching, passing and tackling well below
standard and crucially the forwards were outmuscled.

“The old cliche is that it starts up front and, in short, that’s the point,
it didn’t start up front which is a worrying sign.”

The All Blacks are bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back World
Cups but that could not be guaranteed,” wrote Fairfax columnist Marc Hinton.

“If the All Blacks turn up off their game, as they did in Sydney, defeat
could follow at any stage from the quarter-final on,” he said, while talking
up Australia’s chances despite being in the so-called “pool of death”
with England, Wales and Fiji.

“This is a Wallabies outfit playing with plenty of skill, speed and power,
and they will have a bit of swagger about them now too,” he said.

“There are still areas of their game that can be better… but this is
a team very much in World Cup contention.”

The last time the Wallabies beat the All Blacks was just before the 2011 World
Cup but it was no gauge of what was to come.

The All Blacks beat Australia in the World Cup semi-finals and went on to beat
France in the final.

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