Weather ruins result of Kurtley Beale experiment

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 21:31 17/08/2014

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The identity of the Wallabies' first five-eighth again looms as the intriguing element to Ewen McKenzie's selection for the second Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.

Choosing Kurtley Beale ahead of his NSW Waratahs' teammate Bernard Foley created debate when the Wallabies head coach opted for the utility's game-breaking prowess rather than the stability offered by the squad's first choice goal kicker.

Ultimately a 12-12 draw played under incessant rain at ANZ Stadium last night did not provide a definitive answer to what was the selectors' conundrum.

The weather effectively curbed Beale's running game, though he was reliable from the kicking tee with four penalties from five attempts matching Aaron Cruden's return for the All Blacks.

Beale's general play was diminished by handling errors, an impetuous tap-and-go penalty and an intercept pass, yet those indiscretions were rarely seized upon by an All Black side that was fortunate to hold on for a draw after Foley was denied an opportunity to take a last-minute field goal.

McKenzie would not be drawn on whether Beale would retain his starting role or switch with Foley and aim to add impact during the second half in Auckland.

Beale's inclusion in the first test "dumbfounded" McKenzie's counterpart Steve Hansen and the All Blacks head coach will no doubt be interested to see who has been fitted for the No.10 jersey when the team is unveiled on Tuesday.

McKenzie gave Beale a pass mark for his 70-minute shift but would not guarantee his retention for a test the Wallabies must win to keep their quest for the Bledisloe Cup alive.

"I thought he was trying to make things happen, which is what we wanted, and he goal-kicked at 80 per cent," McKenzie said.

"It wasn't ideal conditions. It doesn't matter who you would have played, it was a difficult game.

"I thought there was a lot a lot of good intent out there and there were errors too, but everyone was guilty of that. We'll see. I thought there was some good stuff."

Beale was also unsure if he would be persevered with following his first start for the Wallabies since the British and Irish Lions series last year.

"I felt comfortable, but I couldn't tell you," he said, before offering a definitive: "I'll be trying to do everything I can to put my case forward."

And if he was back on the bench he would happily assist Foley, despite being annoyed to only make the game-day squad in three tests against France in June.

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"At the end of the day it's important that everyone's just playing their role for the team," he said.

Cruden, meanwhile, thought Beale performed well given the circumstances over head and under foot.

"The conditions probably didn't suit the style they were hoping to play but I thought he played really well and controlled things, especially in that second half where the Australians put us under a lot of pressure," he said.

- Stuff

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