Craig Dowd
What's all the fuss about McCaw's match-winner?
Craig Dowd
July 29, 2015
South Africa 20-27 New Zealand (Australia only)

What is all the fuss about Richie McCaw's match-winning try in South Africa?

In real time it looked like a try. There was a gaping hole caused by deception. You could go and look for a penalty anywhere on the field if you wanted to be like the America's Cup and go back and use a judicial system to change the result every time someone cried foul. If that was the case then 25 per cent of lineouts would end up with a penalty.

Is this the road we want to go down; journalists trying to find mistakes in the game of rugby at a time when we are trying to go to the law book and reduce the number of decisions the referee has to make?

I'd be inclined to say to those complaining: 'You're 100 per cent right, here's the raspberry, look at the scoreboard'. They need to get over it and remember that their paper printed the score on Sunday and Monday.

Rugby is a game where you can always find mistakes if you look hard enough.

Kieran Read (R) was thrilled to see the lineout move come off so successfully © Getty Images
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For me, I loved Keiran Read's reaction. You could see that he was so rapt with a plan that he'd come up with and which had then worked so well. No doubt every other player in the All Blacks' environment heard all about it throughout their long flight home.

Put bluntly, the All Blacks were more innovative, and that innovation has been part of their game for decades. I'm sure nothing has changed since the time Fred Allen was running around. It's the No.8 wire mentality where we sit around and a whole bunch of guys come up with different ideas and then want to come up with a better idea, and we're willing to try things.

The Springboks did something similar with their decision to play two openside flankers. They played well and were more physical than us and they were stronger around the breakdown area. For all that, it was an epic game and just what we've come to expect when these two sides meet at Ellis Park. For varying reasons it will go down in history as one of the finer battles.

At times I thought the All Blacks looked out-muscled and the physicality of the Springboks was typical of what you can expect at Ellis Park.

Mixed returns for All Blacks debutants

Lima Sopoaga had a really fine debut. You couldn't ask for anymore than that. I heard some critics say 'surely you wouldn't do that in a World Cup'; to which I would say that he just did it in an All Blacks-South Africa Test match at Ellis Park and it doesn't get much bigger than that.

He stepped up, and what's bigger than that? He certainly showed he has composure, vision, explosive speed and great attacking skills. So he's someone that I wouldn't be surprised if, possibly this year, he starts stepping forward a bit more and we get to appreciate him more. He's had a question mark over his head but he's one that will definitely be around a long time in the All Blacks jersey.

If you value the Super Rugby competition as a stepping stone, you have to say that Sopoaga was the best No.10 week in, and week out in the competition. There were good performances from others but Lima Sopoaga was the reason the Highlanders were so good this year. His kicking percentage is right up there and he has X-factor about him; he takes the line on and what a great try he set up for Ben Smith. He had the vision to know that he was there and just floated the pass across - it was beautiful to watch.

Lima Sopoaga didn't look out of place at Test level © Getty Images
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James Broadhurst endured a baptism of fire and a real welcome to Test match rugby. But that's what you get. You realise that when you're a big man playing in lesser competitions you can get away with a lot, but when you're a big man playing against other big men you are going to have to adapt.

He's certainly a talented player and he will look at that game and start running a little lower and using his strength to greater effect. You're not going to knock some of the South African forwards over when you are running that high. They are not going to fall off tackles, it's a different level and mistakes are not often made at Test match level.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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