Aaron Cruden left with 'weird' feeling after draw
The score said draw, but for Aaron Cruden and his All Black team-mates it felt very much like a loss as their 17-test winning streak was once again stymied by the willing Wallabies.
After being held to a 12-12 stalemate in a stop-start, error-ridden affair in wet conditions at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, the New Zealand first five-eighths admitted it left somewhat of a sour taste in the mouth for an All Blacks team driven to carve their place in history.
Just as their 16-test win streak had been halted by a draw against the Wallabies in 2012, the All Blacks once again could not quite finish the deal as they stood on the verge of owning the record streak by a top-tier nation outright
"It's quite a bizarre feeling -- probably the weirdest I've felt after a game," Cruden said. "It was pretty disappointing all round. Everyone, both teams, even the crowd, left a little bit disappointed.
"We have to learn from that, review the game over the next few days and try to get better for next weekend in Auckland."
The All Blacks were short of the mark across the board. Their forwards failed to deliver the possession platforms needed, they played 20 minutes a man down after being harshly dealt with by referee Jaco Peyper and they hardly fired a shot in the second half when the dominant Wallabies pretty much had their way.
It was only some world-class defending that probably prevented them slumping to just their second defeat under Hansen.
"We felt we started pretty well, and got a bit of a roll on, but as soon as you take the foot off the pedal in test footy other teams will take that momentum back. It felt like that a bit -- in the second half the Australians controlled the game really well.
"Both teams had good passages of play but no one was really able to make that killer play to put the other team out of it. It makes it more exciting for next weekend. There's a lot on the line now."
Cruden also denied that the pursuit of the historical 18th consecutive test victory had been any sort of a distraction.
"It's something we talked about, and it was something we wanted. When you want something so bad and it doesn't quite turn out the way you wanted it's pretty disappointing. For us it all starts again. We love winning, and a draw is not a win. It's not a loss either, and is quite a bizarre feeling.
"There are some pretty disappointed boys in the changing-rooms but we have to pick ourselves up and get excited because in seven days time we play again."
There was also one big positive, in Cruden's mind. "The boys showed a lot of heart. We played 20 minutes with 14 men, and the desperation the boys showed for each other, you can't coach that. It's a desire that comes from within and I'm sure you'll see it again next weekend."
What do you make of the call to leave Aaron Cruden in NZ?Related story: Cruden left at home after night out drinking