Oval Talk

Warning! Angry All Blacks extremely dangerous

Oval Talk

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Oval Talk was heartened to see that New Zealand had been pipped by a last-gasp James O'Connor try and conversion in their Bledisloe Cup clash last Saturday.

Don't get us wrong, OT doesn't have anything against the All Blacks - they are obviously a fantastically skilled team who play exciting rugby.

But a New Zealand loss gives an extra edge to the upcoming November internationals, which get underway conveniently enough at Twickenham on Saturday with the All Blacks facing England.

The IRB has been patting itself on the back this week with a report that says the recent overhaul of rules has encouraged more attacking rugby with the 2010 Tri-Nations series having the highest average of tries per game in more than a decade and seeing a dramatic reduction in tactical kicking.

What the IRB report conveniently forgot to mention, however, was the fact that the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks have been more inclined over recent years to play that kind of rugby anyway.

The real test will come in this set of autumn internationals when teams more inclined to tactical kicking take to the pitch against those Southern hemisphere teams.

Frequently one to get behind the underdog, Oval Talk briefly entertained the notion that New Zealand's aura of invincibility had been smashed with that loss to Australia; the northern hemisphere teams could go into their matches on an even-footing.

And then, of course, reality kicked back in.

Don't make them angry, OT pleaded at the TV screen as O'Connor kicked that 80th minute conversion.

Former Northampton coach, and current New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith has been making all the right noises since the team touched down in London about how the All Blacks need to careful to match England's physicality otherwise they'll be "hammered".

But really that's all talk, isn't it? Everyone knows that New Zealand are particularly dangerous when they are angry.

Had they won all of their tour matches this winter, New Zealand would have taken over the record for most number of Tests won in succession - Lithuania (yes, seriously) holds the current record at 18.

You can bet the Kiwis will be angry at no longer having the chance to add that to the list of their achievements. They are fully aware of the fact that they are the best team in the world right now.

They also have only lost back-to-back Tests once in the five years, suggesting that their capability to bounce right back is extremely well developed. And skipper Richie McCaw has already gone public with a demand to his team to bounce back immediately, venting their frustrations about that loss against England.

England definitely have the talent to match New Zealand at their own game, running the ball deep from within their own half through the likes of Chris Ashton, Shontayne Hape and Ben Foden in particular.

But they need to be allowed to play like they do for their domestic teams and run at New Zealand. Give possession away and the All Blacks are not going to relinquish it again easily.

Northern hemisphere teams take note. New Zealand are angry and out for blood.

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