Aussies looking to end New Zealand rot
New Zealand teams have dominated Super Rugby since its inception‚ but never as much as they have in the past three years.
This weekend they look to extend their winning-streak over Australian teams to 34 games.
The Waratahs were the last team to top a side from New Zealand when they beat the Chiefs 45-25 in Sydney on May 27‚ 2016.
The last time an Australian side was able to win an away match in New Zealand was on April 18 2015 when the Waratahs beat the Hurricanes 29-24.
Since then the Aussie sides have lost 29 consecutive matches on the road.
It’s been two and a half seasons since Australia’s last Trans-Tasman win‚ which is alarming considering the Wallabies were World Cup finalists in 2015 and the gap to New Zealand appeared to be closing.
It’s not a problem unique to Australian teams either. The Sharks’ bizarre 63-40 win over the Blues in Auckland two weeks ago was the first by a South African team in in New Zealand for 14 games going back to April 2016.
In 2017 SA teams won only three of 18 matches against New Zealand sides. In 2018 they have managed three wins in 10 matches so far.
The Waratahs won Super Rugby in 2014 and it looked for a moment‚ that is was possible for New Zealand’s supreme dominance to be challenged.
But Australia’s expansion to five teams in 2012 diluted their playing strength and the Waratahs win proved to be an anomaly.
A return to four teams this year‚ does appear to have improved Australia’s standard with a playing pool spread more thickly across four regions.
How far they have progressed though‚ can only be measured by results against the Kiwis.
This weekend the Brumbies face the Highlanders in the second clash between Aussie and New Zealand sides this season. Last week the Brumbies went down 28-10 to the Chiefs in Waikato.
It’s difficult to see where an Australia win over a New Zealand team‚ particularly away‚ is likely to come‚ although the Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs do look to have improved significantly since last season.
Rebels head coach Dave Wessels‚ the South African who cut his teeth in the professional environment under Rassie Erasmus at the Stormers and then Jake White at the Brumbies‚ is developing a good side in Melbourne.
But he understands the challenge that New Zealand sides pose and he is not going to make the obstacle appear bigger than it is.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing‚ which is trying to be positive and have a go‚” Wessels told TimesLIVE.
“You can tie yourself in knots overthinking it (ways to beat NZ teams).”
The Sharks turned their season around dramatically with that win over the Blues and were desperately unlucky not to beat the Hurricanes last week.
They succumbed to an injury time try to lose 38-37 in Napier.
It again underlined just how difficult winning in New Zealand is‚ and how almost everything has to go right.
The Stormers were the better team for 60 minutes against both the Crusaders and Highlanders on their recent tour.
But in both those matches a 20-minute spell of complete dominance by the home teams was enough to win it.