Over the course of the past few weeks, New Zealand and Fiji have collided in two hard-fought test matches. As many rugby enthusiasts would expect, the All Blacks have come out on top in both of these battles, beating a young and talented Fiji side 57-23 on July 10 and 60-13 on July 17.
But, how have New Zealand managed to get the better of the South Pacific side? Let’s analyze three major factors.
#1 A star from close to home
The New Zealand rugby side are arguably the greatest sports team of all time and have been for a number of years. Part of the reason for this is their ability to develop and nurture new stars of the game.
A great example of this is Sevu Reece, who scored a hat-trick of tries in the first half of the second test. However, his performance will be considered as a gut punch by many Fiji fans because, like several stars of late, he was born in Fiji and chose to play for his adoptive nation instead.
#2 Breaking through tough tackles
Fiji are a hard-hitting and physical side who are capable of disrupting the offense of even the world’s top sides. As a result, going into the series, many pundits thought that New Zealand’s attackers would have to be at their best in order to break through Fiji’s disciplined lines and heavy tackles.
This proved the case in the first test, when New Zealand star David Havili was pulverized by some solid Fijian defense. However, although the Fijians enjoyed some great success in the breakdown in the first test, Ian Foster’s All Blacks quickly worked out the game plan. Once they worked out a route through the Fiji defense, they began to score at will.
#3 Metronomic kicking and quality set pieces
Although New Zealand scored 18 tries across the two games, the side will probably take most heart from the performance of their kickers, Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, who converted 12 of the attempts. In test rugby, maximizing opportunities is vital. Now they’re going into a tough test against Australia, the side will need to be at their best if they want to win the Bledisloe Cup.
In addition to this, the side will also take a great deal of joy about how they successfully dissected Fiji at set pieces. With quick, sharp play in these situations towards the end of games, the All Blacks were able to take advantage of a tired Fiji side and punish even the smallest lapses in concentration.
With the Bledisloe Cup now on the horizon for the All Blacks, Ian Foster and his staff will hope the side’s best rugby is still ahead of them. Fingers crossed they’re prepared for this upcoming battle.