The All Blacks’ magic and myth

The All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia on Saturday was not the summer solstice, a holy day or the dawn of the age of enlightenment.

It was a poor performance over fatally flawed opposition, aided and abetted by a South African referee who has clearly not yet come to terms with the principle of equality.

Let’s start with Tom Taylor, because in some ways the young man stands as a metaphor for the relentless publicity that is part of the All Blacks genius.

Reading about Taylor before and after the game, I was nearly fooled into thinking I had just seen the reincarnation of Barry John. The reality was nearer to Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the line, ”He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”.

Taylor has a great deal of ability, but Steve Hansen’s foolhardy gamble of playing the kid at first-five with almost no football in that position this season could have cost New Zealand the game.

Taylor was out of his depth defensively, not sure whether to stay or go. He frequently dog-legged, and his flimsiness in the tackle made it hard for Ma’a Nonu and Richie McCaw to decide whether to press or hold back.

Taylor was the passive tackler when Stephen Moore offloaded to Christian Leali’ifano in the first half and he was brushed aside by Israel Folau in the second. On both occasions Australia would have scored but for deliberate New Zealand infringements.

They were far from the only times that the Wallabies exploited his channel. Taylor’s restarts did not offer the chance to win back possession and his kicking out of hand was mediocre.

But because of a couple of lovely passes near to the gain line and a half-break at the start of the match (from which he was turned over by Michael Hooper), the lad was anointed.

Taylor may well turn out to be a fine player, but as yet he is nowhere near an international first-five. But the All Blacks are the Muhammad Ali of international rugby; a team where excellence and myth merge to the point where the stigmata become invisible.

McCaw has been another good example during the opening games of the Rugby Championship. The master has been clearly outplayed by Hooper, Australia’s outstanding player, but no-one will admit it.

Well, McCaw might, because you don’t become one of the all-time greats without knowing when you are not match-sharp and a yard off the pace.

In Saturday’s game, McCaw was frequently beaten to the breakdown, he was a yard off covering Taylor’s inside shoulder and he knocked on a couple of balls he would normally haul in, blowing good attacking opportunities.

That’s fair enough. Even McCaw can’t come back from a sabbatical and play like Michael Jones. But Hansen would have you believe he has done just that. The man and the myth is an important part of the All Blacks psychology.

It is even more extreme in the case of Nonu. The guy who struggles in Super Rugby becomes a different player when he pulls on an All Blacks jersey, we are told. It’s the Frank Bunce story, or is it George Bernard Shaw – Man and Superman?

Horsefeathers.

On Saturday, Nonu should have been sin-binned – at least – for a dangerous shoulder charge into the head of James Slipper. He turned over ball twice. He scrambled a poor kick out of defence with an overlap outside. He kicked another ball out on the full. And he threw the intercept pass for Folau’s try.

These are exactly the sort of blunders that have cost the Blues and the Highlanders in recent seasons. But because the All Blacks were good enough to win despite Nonu’s howlers, they are airbrushed out of history.

The All Blacks don’t admit the big mistakes in public unless the unthinkable happens and they lose. Then confession is called for. There were others in this New Zealand team who under-performed on Saturday.

Israel Dagg kicked out on the full, missed a tackle, put his wing under pressure with a daft throw-in, but one good break and the country looks the other way. The hooker position is an ongoing problem, and Aaron Smith did not kick well from the base. But the myth must be perpetuated.

It intimidates other teams, although Australia look quite capable of intimidating themselves at the moment. Some of their tackling is feeble and they are quite hopeless at fielding short, high kicks in midfield.

More importantly, the myth intimidates refs. This millennium, New Zealand have received 46 cards in 166 tests. South Africa have copped 77 in 164 games. Are the Boks really nearly twice as evil?

The Aussie coach was right to be apoplectic on Saturday evening. Why was Moore’s ”try” not referred? Why was Kieran Read not yellow-carded for a professional foul? Why was Nonu not yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle? Why were the All Blacks’ tacklers and defenders repeatedly allowed to take so long getting back that they blocked Will Genia’s blindside channel?

That was coached cheating again, by the way. Why was Ben Smith allowed to stand offside in front of the tryline to make a crucial defensive tackle? Why was Tony Woodcock allowed to angle in, but not Australia?

The penalty count should have favoured Australia in the first 50 minutes, but New Zealand led it 12-5.

Sir Graham Henry would have suspected perfidy or a betting scandal in such circumstances. The rest of the world just thinks, ”Same old”.

The magic and the myth.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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American Idol is, a reality show with Dr Luke

This is the end result of a culture based on fame. Which too many people equate with fortune. My favorite story about this took place at a restaurant where patrons were stunned to see a cast member of the “Real World” waiting tables. They asked him, “What are you doing here?”

I ask Dr. Luke the same question.

The “Real World” star was earning a living. Everyone knew his name but MTV pays poorly, and if Martha Quinn couldn’t convert her fame into further riches, good luck to the evanescent stars of reality shows.

That’s what “American Idol” is, a reality show. And a decade plus of intense competition has taught us it’s never about talent and always about drama. Whether it be the shenanigans on the “Real World” or the competitors on “Survivor,” we don’t care about the game but the interactions, we want to see real life played out on the screen. At least until the producers hired writers and scripted interactions to the point that we know in many cases it’s just entertainment.

So what we have with “American Idol” is a dying franchise. Hell, even Simon Cowell can no longer succeed, his “X Factor” is a bust, even Britney Spears couldn’t prop it up. We’re more interested in Simon’s sexual peccadilloes than both his show and his artists, we’ve seen that reveal, where he’s been putting his unit and the results thereof are much more interesting, along with the moral questions involved.

So the ratings for “Idol” are never going back up. We see faux criticism and snark and a bunch of half-talented wannabes competing to be molded by a Svengali and overpromoted to little success. What’s so interesting about that? Especially in a world where Miley Cyrus left TV and has been remaking herself more bizarrely every week. As did Amanda Bynes. But at least they had fame previously, the contestants on “Idol” have no history, no track record, and if you think we can relate and believe in someone over the course of a TV season you can list all the competitors on the “Amazing Race.” No, you need multiple seasons to get people to truly care. So no one cares about these contestants, not really.

And they don’t care about the judges. Because there’s a revolving door of people doing it for the money and exposure. Keith Urban is an amazing guitar player, but he’s got about as much personality as the cardboard inside your shirt that comes from the laundry. He grew up practicing his licks, not learning how to speak. He speaks with his guitar. As for J.Lo… Famous for her posterior, anybody who thinks J.Lo can sing has no ears. To make her the arbiter of a singing competition is to make Stephen Hawking a gymnastics judge. As for the vaunted sales bump… J.Lo had one single that moved and Aerosmith’s album tanked after Tyler’s appearance on “Idol,” where he actually displayed a personality. But once you’re fodder for the masses, your core shrugs you off, they figure you don’t need them anymore.

And unless I didn’t get a memo, Dr. Luke is not starting a performing career, he’s a behind the scenes guy. What advantage is he gaining here? Oh, he’s got a deal with Sony, he can find talent. I’m telling you now, Dr. Luke already has access to the world’s best wannabe talent, he doesn’t need to be on this show to find it. And we’ve learned from past seasons that all that exposure does not help the winners sell records. You’re better off building something from scratch.

And you punch up, not down. You attach yourself when something is growing, not failing. It’s the essence of business, it’s why Steve Ballmer had to walk, he was more attached to a dying past than a growing future. Ballmer said the iPhone wouldn’t get traction, suddenly not only are PCs cratering, so is the need for Microsoft’s cash cow Office. You don’t wait until it’s played out before you move on, if you’re smart you leave at the peak, or just thereafter, you get off the merry-go-round when public opinion is still positive, and then speak crap about what happened thereafter when you’re queried in the endless interviews as time goes by.

And to tell you the truth, my aged brain is having a hard time locking on to the name of that songwriter… Oh yeah, Kara DioGuardi? Did she die or something? Because we haven’t heard from her since. What did “Idol” do for Kara’s career other than reveal her to be a narcissistic, fame-hungry person who clawed her way to the top? Like they all are…you don’t make it by being nice, by being unwilling to edge out others. Hell, isn’t that the secret of Madonna’s success? But at least Madonna knew how to leverage what she had. And to get in early on trends and then abandon them. Give Bowie props, he tried to stay ahead of the game. Now both he and Madge are flummoxed as to what to do next.

But that’s a different issue. A TV performer is different from a musician. A musician is cerebral, he writes his own material, a TV performer reads off the prompter, plays to everybody or his show gets canceled whereas a musical performer can appeal to a tiny sliver of the audience and do quite well.

But today everybody wants to appeal to everybody. Which is why art loses its edge. If you’re not willing to write some of the audience off, you’ve got no core. We’re addicted to edge. If you smooth yours off, you’re done.

And that new Katy Perry song… It was cowritten by Max Martin, the unknown Swede responsible for Britney Spears’s “…Baby One More Time,” one of the greatest tracks of the nineties, there, I said it, as well as the Backstreet Boys hits and Kelly Clarkson’s and…

Martin’s had a longer career than the acts he’s worked with, longer than most of those appearing on the VMAs last night, because he knows his place, he knows that pop acts need fodder, and he’s a master. He’s worked at his craft and knows that fame has got nothing to do with it. Hell, all those famous people prepubescent kids adore come and go, and Max remains, he’s nobody’s punch line.

But here we’ve got Dr. Luke saying yes in an era where almost nobody knows the word “no.” They can’t say no to the corporations, to anybody. And since the handlers get a percentage and everybody says to do it everybody does. Not realizing there’s a cost. That playing to everybody on national TV erodes your core and makes you a laughingstock. Yes, we watch TV to snark, not to glorify. This is where the money culture has brought us. If you get paid, no one can criticize. But I am.

Hell, if I were Luke, if the ink weren’t dry, I’d pull out. I’d publicly say no. He’s got enough money. Other than getting paid, all I can see is downsides.

Each and every TV star who joined a show after its peak… Adam Arkin still hasn’t recovered from trying to resuscitate “Northern Exposure.” He’s actually a talented actor, but he looked desperate by taking that gig, he appeared second-rate.

You want to be someone’s first choice. If you’re not in on the ground floor, forget it. If Dr. Luke wants to create a TV show, I’m much more interested. Then again, what does TV have to do with music?

The bold and brave new era of All Blacks rugby continues with promotion of an uncapped 24-year-old

The bold and brave new era of All Blacks rugby continues apace with today’s dramatic promotion of uncapped 24-year-old Canterbury son-of-a-gun Tom Taylor to his first test start.

The theory that coach Steve Hansen is rewriting the once conservative book on All Black selection gained further credence when Taylor was named to start at No 10 for Saturday’s second Bledisloe, and Rugby Championship, test against the Wallabies at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.

With Dan Carter (torn calf), Aaron Cruden (knee) and Beauden Barrett (calf strain) all ruled out for Saturday, the All Blacks were down to the fourth and fifth rung on their depth chart when they called up Canterbury team-mates Taylor, son of 1987 World Cup-winning midfielder Warwick Taylor, and 10-test international Colin Slade to bolster their first five-eighths stock.

The conservative pick – the one the All Blacks would probably have gone for under any number of previous coaches – would have been Slade. He has test experience, and that normally counts for a lot. He was even part of the 2011 World Cup-winning campaign, before limping off in the quarter-final with a groin tear.

But Hansen has shown he is a more progressive and more willing to take risks to achieve results than his grounded southern persona perhaps reflects.

Taylor is the risky selection, but also the exciting one. This is a young man who looks like he could be something special, with a steely goalkicking nerve – he slotted them at 90 per cent for the Crusaders this year – and a natural feel for the game that is clearly in his genes.

Slade is also a gifted footballer, but he has struggled to regain his very best form since suffering a succession of injuries following the last World Cup. At 25 he has time still on his side, but he is a young man rebuilding his confidence, rather than revelling in it.

Taylor has been on the All Blacks radar for a while now, with his ability to play 10, 12 or 15 with equal assurance. In fact, his lack of game-time at No 10 further underlines the audacity of Hansen’s selection.

Taylor played one warmup game at first-five for the Crusaders before starting seven matches at second-five and a further three at fullback during their Super Rugby campaign.

But Hansen is happy to roll the dice with an opportunity that has come a little ahead of schedule, and maybe in a different position than he might have envisioned.

“He is mentally tough and plays the game with a lot of confidence and maturity,” said Hansen. “These factors, along with his assured goalkicking under pressure, has made this an easy selection.

“We have every faith that he will handle the occasion with aplomb.”

Taylor is one of two injury-enforced changes from the team that started last week’s impressive Bledisloe victory over the Wallabies in Sydney.

The other will raise less eyebrows, with well performed Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick coming in for Luke Romano who is out for the remainder of the Rugby Championship with a groin injury.

The test will also be the 100th cap for veteran loosehead prop Tony Woodcock who is part of an unchanged front row, deservedly retained after their superior scrummaging display in Sydney.

There is more movement in the reserves, where Wellington hooker Dane Coles comes back into the matchday 23 after proving his fitness at provincial level, as does fit-again prop Wyatt Crockett and Lions skipper Jeremy Thrush to cover lock.

In the backs, Slade makes is named in the All Blacks for the first time since 2011 and Taylor’s ability to cover second-five means Auckland’s Charles Piutau replaces Ryan Crotty as the outside back cover.

Hansen said it would be a special test for Woodcock as he became the All Blacks’ fourth test centurion, behind skipper Richie McCaw (117), Keven Mealamu (105) and Mils Muliaina (100).

Some had wondered whether Woodcock’s days were numbered after Crockett’s performances in the June tests, but last Saturday night provided a timely reminder of what the 32-year-old is still capable of.

“Woody is a hugely respected player within the group who always puts the team first,” said Hansen. “It has been business as usual for him and the team this week, but we will enjoy acknowledging his achievement with him after the game.”

Hansen also warned against any complacency following the 47-29 victory in Sydney that sees the All Blacks just one win away from retaining the Bledisloe Cup for another year.

“They will be hurting after that test and will throw everything at us,” he said. “They will be looking to play with more accuracy and intensity, so we will need to meet – or better – that with a higher level of execution right across the board.”

Meanwhile, Frank Halai (Counties Manukau), Joe Moody (Canterbury) and Brad Shields (Wellington) have been released to play in week two of the national provincial championship if required.

All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Tom Taylor, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Steven Luatua, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Jeremy Thrush, Sam Cane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Colin Slade, Charles Piutau.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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Could this be the Simple Minds set list for latter in the year in SA? -this set is from earlier this year

  1. Set One
  2. Broken Glass Park
  3. Waterfront
  4. Once Upon A Time
  5. Up On The Catwalk
  6. Let There Be Love
  7. All The Things She Said
  8. War Babies
  9. Glittering Prize
  10. I Travel
  11. Set Two
  12. Book Of Brilliant Things
  13. Neon Lights
    (Kraftwerk cover)
  14. Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
  15. She’s A River
  16. This Is Your Land
  17. Blood Diamonds
  18. The American
  19. Love Song
  20. See The Lights
  21. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
  22. Promised You A Miracle
  23. Encore:
  24. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
  25. Sanctify Yourself
  26. Space
  27. Alive And Kicking

TALK – CAN MUSIC BE A VEHICLE TO ADVANCE THE CULTURE OF HUMAN RIGHTS? WED, 21 AUG, 14:15, SENATE ROOM

Record industry trumpets its sales figures By Bob Lefstez

Every week the antiquated record industry trumpets its sales figures and the even more ancient media industry repeats them. And to say they’re unimpressive is to say you took the family goat to prom.

Let’s look at Imagine Dragons.

They’re a top ten act selling 25,000 records a week.

25k a week? That’s positively anemic in a country of 300 million. That’s like asking us to be impressed that you made $2.50 at the lemonade stand. In a county where movies debut in the double digit millions every week, it appears the music industry is a joke.

But it’s not.

Oh, you can point to the 1.25 million records Imagine Dragons has sold in nearly a year, but how impressive is that? When there used to be a diamond award given for ten million sales on a regular basis at the tail end of the last century…

Have people just given up listening to music?

NO! It’s just that the industry keeps pointing people to lame metrics.

On Spotify, the supposedly rip-off system with no traction, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” has been spun 122,988,750 times. Put that number in the paper, it’ll wow people! It’s almost unfathomable, it’s got too many commas for most people to be able to interpret. And the band has another track at over 50 million and two in the 30 million play range.

These numbers are SPECTACULAR!

This is not your daddy’s record business. Only it is. Everyone’s pointing to the wrong number and the acts are complicit.

The press has declared Kanye West’s new album a stiff, but on Spotify the tracks have 2.5 to 5 million plays. Now compared to “Blurred Lines,” with 64 million, that’s not much, but it certainly indicates traction. As for the other song of the summer? The radio edit of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has got 74,122,609 spins and the album version has got another 26,335,533.

It’s not whether someone buys it, but whether they play it. While “Billboard” keeps reformulating its chart, factoring in social media and a bunch of other crap, why not look to streaming services, which truly indicate popularity?

Same deal with YouTube, where “Radioactive” has 65 million plays. And that’s impressive, but people conflate those numbers with television, with the MTV of yore, and they just don’t register that much anymore, especially with a new viral video on a regular basis, which may have nothing to do with music.

And you don’t see Calvin Harris’s name on a regular basis in mainstream media, but he’s got numerous tracks with double digit million spins on Spotify. “I Need Your Love” has got 56,435,679, “Sweet Nothing” has got 73,831,099. Maybe some insiders are gloating over his income, wherein he was rated as the number one earning deejay in “Forbes,” but to think that’s gotten mainstream penetration is to believe “Forbes”‘s site has got the same following as TMZ. Then again, it was linkbait, they just did that report to garner virality.

But that’s all about manipulation. Right now, these Spotify numbers are real. And important. And as soon as we stop vilifying these streaming services and start trumpeting their metrics, the sooner the rest of the world will take music seriously, the sooner artists will realize that there’s a ton of money in music and it’s worth it to take the risk as opposed to play the game because you can go straight to your audience and people are hungry for something new and different.

P.S. Don’t denigrate Spotify, sign up! Get everybody you know to sign up! Then these numbers keep going up, up, up! And more money rains down on those who make the music, and isn’t that your main complaint, that you just can’t make enough cash? This is your salvation!

P.P.S. Yes, these are global play counts on Spotify, but it is a global business and the more we tear down the artificial national barriers and embrace the true reality of music dissemination, the better it will be for everybody, especially the artists.

P.P.P.S. “Radioactive” had 1,127,465 plays in the U.S. last week. You can see how many weekly U.S. plays a track had on Spotify here:http://charts.spotify.com/embed/charts/most_streamed/us/latest

P.P.P.P.S. You can add a Spotify Top Tracks widget to your site here: http://charts.spotify.com

P.P.P.P.P.S. Right now Spotify is the leader, only one service will win, whether it be Spotify, Deezer or MOG/Daisy/Beats. Everyone will gravitate to one, to share. The same way BlackBerry can’t exist in a world of Android and iPhone, which are battling it out for supremacy themselves. You see you want to be where your friends are, BBM kept people on BlackBerry, iMessage is helping keep people on the iPhone and you build the platform and keep improving it, you grow or you die, that’s Amazon’s mantra, that’s what’s hobbled Apple’s stock, that’s what hurts musical acts. You think by repeating the formula you’re sustaining, but the truth is you’re dying.

More pressure on Australia Rugby

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SAME OLD: This was supposed to be the Bledisloe that sparked the Wallaby revival – but that wasn’t how it turned out.

OPINION: This was supposed to be the Bledisloe that sparked the Wallaby revival. Instead, after an emphatic All Black victory, all it’s done is heap more pressure on Australian rugby.

The Wallabies had such a huge buildup and high expectations around how they were going to turn things round.

All we heard all week was how significant Ewen McKenzie was going to be and the difference he was going to make.

I know people in Australia had a problem with Robbie Deans but McKenzie was never going to change anything just by his presence. He still selects from the same pool of players Deans had to.

McKenzie’s trump card was supposed to be his ability to “reinvigorate” his players and come up with a game-plan they could respond to.

I think maybe Robbie would have been sitting at home in his lounge in Mossman with a slight smirk on his face. It was naive to think getting rid of him would provide a simple solution.

New Zealand are a good dozen points better than Australia every time they hit the park, and it’s going to take more than a coaching change to bridge that gap.

I’ve got nothing but praise for the way the All Blacks played. Even the odd error can be excused when you’re playing at such intensity and pace you are blowing the other team away.

They were also pretty ruthless at converting pressure situations into points. The Wallabies just couldn’t cope.

Australia showed an ability to break the line but it was all too rare. Often they were in full scramble mode and didn’t deal with the pressure at all well.

McKenzie will be feeling that pressure today as he plots the rematch in just a few days’ time. Some of his selections didn’t provide the answers sought, and others just couldn’t get into the game. What’s his next move?

I was rapt to see Aaron Cruden play so very well given his previous experience in Sydney under similar circumstances.

He led the team round the field magnificently and had a great understanding with Aaron Smith who played close to his best test for the All Blacks.

The rest were in sync with those two guys. They all contributed, and they were all hungry.

But it would be remiss not to highlight the skipper’s efforts. Richie McCaw was outstanding. I never doubted, with his heart, he’d get through fitness wise. It was just a matter of how his body coped.

No amount of running trains your body for someone coming like a missile to smash you into the ground, then six other blokes landing on top. Then you get up and do it again.

But not only did he survive, he thrived. Some of those early errors were just over-enthusiasm, and once he got on page with the referee he was as influential as ever. He looks like he’s only going to get better too.

You could tell the sabbatical has worked well for him. He loves playing for the All Blacks and couldn’t wait to get back into it. He looked hungry too, which is a great sign.

The All Blacks scrum was excellent, but I’m not convinced by the new laws.

I understand they took away the hit and distance between front rows to stop the folding in at impact. But there’s still spinning and manipulating going on, and a lot of bumbled ball.

And hookers don’t have a fair chance to hook the ball if referees are so vigilant on the feed.

The scrum is a restart, but demanding straight feeds just creates more restarts, with short-arm penalties, and then full penalties.

That doesn’t solve anything. Instead of clearing up this area, it’s made it even more clouded.

I tell you this: halfbacks would get a bollocking from their coach and front row if they put it right down the middle, because it’s impossible to hook it that way.

Argentina is also a major worry after their humiliation at the hands of the Boks.

It wasn’t good seeing the ease with which South Africa scored their tries. That’s not what this Rugby Championship needs.

I’ve got real fears how they’re going to fare, and how long they may last. They’re on thin ice. They didn’t win a game last year and everyone cut them slack because they were new. Now it looks like they’ve taken a step backwards.

We need competitiveness. They need to get up to speed, and quick. It’s great to have them in the championship, but they’ve got to produce the rugby to validate being there.

Justin Marshall played 81 tests for the All Blacks, and is the chief rugby analyst for Sky Television.

– © Fairfax NZ News

All Blacks blow Wallabies away in Sydney

The All Blacks celebrated their 100th test victory over the Wallabies to safeguard a decade-long ownership of the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney tonight, as the start of Ewen McKenzie’s tenure added to Australia’s recent sporting humiliations.

McKenzie was unable to match his predecessor Robbie Deans by savouring a win in his first trans-Tasman test as head coach against the All Blacks as the world champions completed an emphatic 47-29 victory – just three points shy of the record 50-point haul they amassed here at ANZ Stadium in 2003.

Although the All Blacks preparations were hampered by the loss of Dan Carter and Liam Messam before the squad left Wellington – and there were concerns over Richie McCaw’s lack of game time returning from a sabbatical – New Zealand still maintained their dominance of a Wallabies side in transition.

After suffering their seventh defeat in eight tests at the venue the Wallabies face the challenging task of winning in Wellington next week to ensure the first Bledisloe clash at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium in October is not the customary dead rubber.

Ominously the Wallabies not won back-to-back tests in New Zealand since 1949 – their last success occurred in 2001.

McKenzie’s ploy of introducing personnel that were not exposed to the trauma suffered by teams selected by predecessor Robbie Deans was admirable though now nine more Wallaby players are scarred by the experience of facing the All Blacks, to varying degrees.

In contrast, Aaron Cruden exorcised any demons from his previous Bledisloe in Sydney three years ago where he was subbed for Colin Slade before two late tries salvaged a 23-22 victory.

Cruden made the ideal start at the culmination of a concerted build-up from the kick-off when his flick pass found Ben Smith in space after James O’Connor mistakenly veered of his wing in the third minute – an early score reminiscent of the Lions rapid start to their crushing win six weeks ago.

The Wallabies managed to regroup through the reliable boot of Christian Leali’ifano, though it the second five-eighth’s charged down clearance by Cruden on the half hour enabled the pivot to score his second test try.

Two minutes later a missed touch finder by Jesse Mogg initiated a record-breaking five-pointer by McCaw, who atoned for the concession of three ruck penalties, when he dived over in O’Connor’s wing for his ninth touchdown in trans-Tasman clashes – eclipsing former Wallaby wing David Campese’s eight-try haul.

That quick-fire double threatened to dispirit the Wallabies but inspirational halfback Will Genia responded with a runaway try reminiscent of his Super 14 championship-winning try in 2011 when Michael Hooper snaffled an overthrown All Black lineout two minutes from the break.

Genia received the ball 70-metres out and held Cruden and Aaron Smith at bay before wrong-footing a stumbling Israel Dagg.

Cruden nailed a penalty after the hooter to give the All Blacks a 25-19 advantage, whittled back to three five minutes after the resumption as Leali’ifano maintained his perfect record but trademark ruthlessness signalled the key momentum shift.

A snipe by Aaron Smith, who was excellent despite predictable feeding issues at the scrum, freed up Conrad Smith for the bonus-point try in the 52nd minute; Ben Smith then added his second before the final quarter when the wing crossed with ease when Genia fluffed a scrum clearance.

That twin setback prompted Quade Cooper’s injection from the bench for Toomua, and we promptly delighted All Blacks supporters by failing to push his first restart 10m.

Smith completed the rout – and his hattrick – when pouncing on a loose ball eight minutes from the end of another dark night for Australian rugby.

All Blacks 47 (Ben Smith 3, Aaron Cruden, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith tries; Aaron Cruden 3 pen 3 con; Beauden Barrett con) Wallabies 29 (Will Genia, James O’Connor tries; Christian Leali’ifano 5 pens 2 con). HT: 25-19

– © Fairfax NZ News

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