There is one very striking conclusion that can be drawn from the second Bledisloe Cup match of 2016, and it is that discipline is everything in rugby.
Australia needed to be aggressive. They could ill afford not to be. But sadly their aggression was wasted.
They had to get up and into the faces of their All Black opponents and try to shake them up.
However, they could not rattle the world champions with their attempts to pick fights, though it was what they had to try and do early on. But once they had gone down that route, they could not stop fighting. And while rugby is a warrior’s game, it is not a fight, it is a battle.
Like in a battle, there is need for more than aggression, rage and strength, there is also a need for strategy, vision and creativity, and the Wallabies had none of that on Saturday.
Quade Cooper could not bring the spark of life to the backline and, without that the forwards could fight all they wanted, but they were without support.
They were angry and frustrated, and they were fighting. But there was nobody telling them they were fighting the wrong battle. They lacked the general telling them where to go and what to do from the back. Stephen Moore did well as a captain, keeping them going and getting them to push on time and time again, but even the hooker was fighting from the trenches and could never give them a purpose and a direction from a higher level.
After the opening exchanges, he could not even direct the aggression of the forwards towards the All Blacks in a constructive manner.
They could have been saved by the referee of course, but Frenchman Romain Poite, likewise, was unable to keep discipline. Had he sent the worst aggressors from both sides, namely Adam Coleman and Owen Franks, to the bin in the first ten minutes things might have calmed down.
Coleman had a shocker of a performance, just picking fights and making a nuisance of himself from the start, to such a point that even Poite was fed up with it after the dumb shoulder charge on Ben Smith.
Despite being cleared of eye-gouging, Franks could have gone to the bin or even seen red for the incident below, which has been examined across the rugby world since as well as his swinging arm in the ruck.
But even aside from that, the Wallabies just kept fighting and the All Blacks used that against them. They let them run out of steam and took over the momentum whenever they could.
So while the brilliance of the All Blacks cannot be underestimated and the Wallabies had injuries to deal with, they really killed their own chances.
What they needed was an action like that of Roland at Roncesvalles, what they managed was Pershing’s offensive in the night of the 10th to the 11th of November.
When they failed to rattle their opponents, their aggression was wasted and served no practical purpose anymore. When they kept it up, they only drove themselves further into the ground.
They had to remember that it is the ability to keep your head and think that wins rugby games and not just force and aggression and power.
And it is to be hoped they have learned this lesson, because the misfiring Springboks will punish them for it just as well as the All Blacks.
Paul Peerdeman, Pundit Arena