Dan Carter v Beauden Barrett in the battle for All Blacks' greatest fly-half performance

Alex Broun 26/08/2018
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Dan Carter chips over Josh Lewsey to score his first try against the Lions in 2005

The debate has already kicked off in the land of the long white cloud.

Which performance was better – Dan Carter against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington in 2005 or Beauden Barrett against the Wallabies at Eden Park in 2018?

Both were mesmeric, record-breaking performances by players on top of their game and unmatched on the world stage.

Carter was electric on that night 13 years ago. He scored 33 points from two tries, four conversions and five penalties as the All Blacks thrashed Clive Woodward’s Lions 48-18 to claim the series.

It was similar for the middle Barrett brother who scored 30 points from four tries and five conversions as the All Blacks dispatched the Wallabies 40-12 to retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th year.

The Wallabies saw a blur when they looked at Beauden Barrett

The Wallabies saw a blur when they looked at Beauden Barrett

Carter’s 33 points was a record by an individual in a Test against the Lions, as was Barrett’s 30 points in Tests against the Wallabies.

For then 23-year-old Carter it was just his 20th Test, and only his fifth start at fly-half.

Barrett, at 27, is a little further into his career, playing in his 66th Test and 35th as the No10 after serving a three year apprenticeship under Carter up until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

For both players the match was a significant milestone.

For Carter, three-time World Rugby Player of the Year in 2005, 2012 and 2015 it was a coming of age on the international stage.

A player of undoubted talent showing what he was truly capable of in the most intense of Test match platforms.

For Barrett, two-time World Rugby Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017, it was a reinstatement of his undoubted talent after his place had been put under threat by the rising support for the Crusaders No10, Richie Mo’unga.

Carter’s strengths were an accurate left boot, he scored 1,451 points with his left foot in Tests (plus two more with his right in the 2015 RWC final), superb vision and distribution and the eye for a gap.

Barrett’s right boot is definitely not as accurate, he has just 375 points from conversions (123) and 43 penalties, but what Beauden gives up for in kicking for the poles he makes up for in tactical kicking and the speed not only to see a gap but to scorch through it – as he did time and time again against the Wallabies.

Carter was unstoppable that day in 2005

Carter was unstoppable that day in 2005

In weighing up both performances the Lions were undoubtedly the tougher opponent with Carter opposed by another of the greatest fly-halves of all time – Jonny Wilkinson, as well as Jason Robinson and Shane Williams on the wing and Paul O’Connell leading the pack.

Carter picked out the Lions’ weaker link of Gavin Henson, in for the tour captain Brian O’Driscoll who was controversially injured in the first Test, and ran through him all day, putting on a masterclass of skills.

Wilkinson himself stood in awe at Carter’s first try as the All Blacks playmaker sprinted into a tight corner then kicked over the top of full-back Josh Lewsey and re-gathered to score.

The Daily Mail’s Chris Foy, reminiscing in 2009 about what he saw that day, chose a different sport to try to sum up Carter’s display.

“It was once said of Nick Faldo that he had conquered golf – he had beaten the game,” Foy wrote.

“Well, against the Lions in Wellington four years ago, Carter seemed to conquer rugby. The majesty of his performance was astonishing. It defied belief at times.”

More than this Carter had done the impossible in a heated atmosphere with the Lions seething over the (unpunished) tackle on O’Driscoll by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu and hell bent on squaring the series.

Could Barrett’s performance be adjudged to have done the same?

He was up against a mis-firing Wallabies side shorn of one of their few world class players in full-back Israel Folau, which certainly allowed Barrett to score at least one of his tries, easily outpacing Folau’s slower replacement, Dane Haylett-Petty.

But Barrett too was under great pressure – with not one but two world class No10s breathing down his neck (Mo’unga and Chiefs utility Damian McKenzie) Barrett chose this day to show what he was truly capable of.

The true test for the current owner of the All Blacks No10 jersey may come in a few weeks’ time when the marauding Springboks pack come to Wellington with a hungry back row intent on cutting Barrett down to size.

Perhaps the only fair way to judge is to look at what each player brings to their side.

Carter was more of a controller of play in a traditional sense – knowing when to pass, when to kick and on the odd occasion when to run. He thrived at the set-piece.

While Barrett is more of a broken field runner who thrives on turnover ball and an unset defensive line.

For mine, Carter’s Lions effort just shades Barrett’s Wallabies walkover but Beauden has many more days in All Black to come.

He may yet topple Carter’s magnus opus.

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Record-breaker Beauden Barrett leads our key stats as the All Blacks retain Bledisloe

Alex Broun 25/08/2018
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Beauden Barrett races over for one of his four tries against the Wallabies in Auckland.

Inspired by Beauden Barrett‘s four tries, the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th straight year after a 40-12 (six tries to two) victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

This followed on from the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney last Saturday won 38-13 by the All Blacks and stretches New Zealand’s unbeaten winning streak at Eden Park to a quarter of a century. The Wallabies have not won there for 32 years, last tasting victory in September 1986 (22-9).

Here, we take a look at the key stats from Saturday’s match.

4: All Blacks wing Ben Smith made a game high four offloads followed by his team mate, outside centre Jack Goodhue with three.

5: Australia had a bad week on and off the field. With another Prime Minister and Bledisloe Cup quest biting the dust in the same week, the Wallabies now have the dubious record of having had more PMs in the last decade (5) than victories over the All Blacks (4).

6: Wallabies backs Kurtley Beale and Marika Koroibete  had days to forget in defence missing a game-high six tackles each. Koroibete also conceded three turnovers.

4: Beauden’s four tries only equaled the highest number of tries scored against the Wallabies in a Test match by one player, bringing him level with Springbok winger Jongi Nokwe’s quadruple against the Wallabies in Johannesburg in 2008.

21: All Blacks skipper Kieran Read put in a huge defensive shift making a game-high 21 tackles. Second was his opposing No8, David Pocock, with 18.

30: Beauden’s four tries and five conversions gave the All Blacks’ fly-half the greatest points tally ever recorded by a single player against the Wallabies in a Test match, eclipsing Andrew Mehrtens’ 29-points haul (nine penalties and a conversion) at the same venue in July 1999.

30: Beauden has now scored the most tries by any Test fly-half in history, his four against the Wallabies in Auckland taking him past the 29 scored by the man who mentored him for the first three years of his All Blacks career – Dan Carter. He has also equaled legendary England and British and Irish Lions winger Jason Robinson.

100: Prop Owen Franks became the second All Blacks forward in two weeks to bring up his century of Test caps, after Sam Whitelock last weekend in Sydney. It now brings to three the number of current All Blacks with 100 Test caps – Franks, Whitelock and captain Kieran Read.

151: metres made in attack by Beauden from 12 runs, a figure only topped by his brother Jordie with 153 from 11 runs. Beauden also had a game high three line breaks and an equal game high six tackle busts (along with Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty).

5,868: It is now 5868 days since the Wallabies last held up the Bledisloe Cup, or 16 years and 23 days, way back till August 3, 2002.

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Beauden Barrett bamboozles outclassed Wallabies in our Bledisloe Cup report card

Alex Broun 25/08/2018
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Jordie and Beauden Barrett (r) celebrate with the Bledisloe Cup in Auckland

Beauden Barrett became the first man in history to score 30 points against Australia in a Test as the world champion All Blacks waltzed to a 40-12 victory at Eden Park, and in so doing retained the Bledisloe Cup for a scarcely believable 16th year in a row.

The Wallabies kept pace early on and were trailing just 14-7 at half-time, but in the second-half the relentless pace and skills of the All Blacks took its toll as they scored another four tries to run out comfortable victors.

Barrett’s four tries also equaled South Africa’s Jongi Nokwe as the most tries ever scored against Australia in a Test.

Here’s our report card from a one-sided contest in Auckland.

THE GOOD

Beauden Barrett: Scarcely believable from a player who many were calling to be dropped after a mixed Super Rugby campaign. The middle Barrett brother was simply unplayable, whether it was running, passing or kicking. Everything good the All Blacks did came from BB and when he felt like he just did it all himself as his four tries attest.

Wallabies spirit: No one can blame the Wallabies for effort. They worked hard right up till the 80th minute, trying to score tries, hold back the All Black wave, keep the score respectable. It is not the effort that can be faulted but the bone headed game plan that is simply trying to out All Black the All Blacks. It is playing ‘All Blacks lite’ rugby and it is never going to work when you come up against the real thing.

THE BAD

All Blacks defence: This was a performance from the world champions that was hard to fault and it begs the question, is this the greatest All Blacks team ever. In attack they were unstoppable – 1099 metres from 142 runs, 13 line breaks, 15 off loads and five phases seven or over. Steve Hansen though is always seeking perfection and will not be happy with the 28 missed tackles, for an 85 per cent tackle success rate.

Wallabies mistakes: If you are going to beat the All Blacks, especially at Eden Park where they have not lost for a quarter of a century, you cannot make mistakes. But the Wallabies missed 37 tackles from a total of 146 – just an 80 per cent tackle rate. They also made 12 handling errors and conceded nine penalties. Hardly mistake free rugby.

KEY MOMENTS

12 mins: Ben Smith takes a high kick from Aaron Smith and a half break from Jordie Barrett is completed with the simplest run in from his brother Beauden. Barrett converts his own try. All Blacks 7-0.

27 mins: Wallabies backing their scrum five metres out. Repeated penalties against the All Blacks but no card from referee Wayne Barnes. But from the next scrum Kurtley Beale runs a great decoy and Will Genia darts over himself. Bernard Foley converts. 7-7.

38 minutes: Classic All Blacks. Wallabies deep in attack but Beale spills it. The All Blacks counter-attack rather than kick. They swing it wide where Codie Taylor and Ben Smith combine to take it well down field. Ben Smith is pulled down inches short but Aaron Smith finds Beauden Barrett who dives over. He converts his own try. All Blacks 14-7

61 mins: Ball on the halfway line and not much happening but Beauden Barrett just turns on the jet shoes and races 50 metres to score under the posts. His third of the night which he converts. All Blacks 35-12.

68 mins: A turnover from Retallick in the ABs 22, they go wide straight away and replacement Damian McKenzie sprints away. He finds Ben Smith who finds Beauden Barrett who dives in the corner. He becomes the first ever All Black to score four tries against the Wallabies. Just to show he’s human he misses the conversion. All Blacks lead 40-12.

80 mins: The Wallabies attack but Jack Maddocks is bundled into touch. Full time. All Blacks win 40-12 and retain the Bledisloe Cup.

TACTICAL TURNING POINTS

After the thrashing last weekend in Sydney, Australian captain Michael Hooper said the Wallabies “have a plan” for this Saturday at Eden Park.

Whatever Hooper might profess the Wallabies’ only plan seems to be to try and play like the All Blacks – but they just don’t do it as well.

Australia managed to keep pace with the world champions in the opening period but after the break the relentless tempo of the All Blacks just could not be stopped. Two tries in the first seven minutes of the second-half put it out of reach for the Wallabies.

GRADE:

WALLABIES: B –

You cannot fault the Wallabies’ endeavor but although they improved I nearly every facet – and managed tri score two tries to the one in Sydney – they still ended up losing by three points more – 28 to 25 in Sydney.

ALL BLACKS: A –

As good as they were the All Blacks can still be better. They made 17 handling errors and lost three of their own lineouts. Their scrum was also penalized regularly. Hansen will see a lot that can be improved before they Argentina in Nelson in a fortnight.

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