Mehrtens: Records at risk as Wallabies eye coup
Despite a lot of talk about the All Black response at Eden Park, I see the Wallabies as an even bigger threat this week as they eye a great chance to snap a second win streak in as many weeks.
It's 20 years since the All Blacks have lost at Eden Park and 28 since the Wallabies have beaten them on the Auckland ground. Yet both of those records must be under serious threat this week.
The Australians will fancy their chances following the 12-12 Sydney stalemate. They will be just as desperate as the All Blacks, not only to atone for a result they were disappointed about too, but also to keep their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive. Those conditions last week didn't suit the Wallabies at all. They're clearly looking to play at pace and with ball in hand, yet they fronted in the wet better than most would have imagined.
The scrum and lineout stats were relatively even, and round the field the Wallabies were good. They stood up at the breakdown and, on defence, their organisation was impressive.
Their biggest advantage on defence is their ability to quickly identify the opportunity for a gang tackle. They make good hits, go in twos and threes, and make life difficult for the opposition.
You know there will be adjustments from them this week. They're smart players, their defence will be tight again and they'll back their attack to go up a level in hopefully drier conditions.
Aussie confidence will be high too. It was a gritty and tough effort in Sydney - something we haven't associated with the Wallabies in recent years. There's real belief in their camp now.
Why not? They created the lion's share of the opportunities in Sydney. The All Blacks made some big one-on-one hits and scrambled incredibly well on defence but the Aussies ran well into gaps and looked more likely to score the try that would have decided the contest.
That they were so disappointed about the draw is also a good sign. That shows they're not willing to settle. They want that All Black scalp.
The All Blacks' resilience on defence was easily their best attribute. Dane Coles, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea and Ryan Crotty all made big plays under pressure.
The Wallabies will also be desperate. The Bledisloe Cup could be gone for another year. Rather than nothing to lose, I'd say they've got everything to gain.
That suits the Australian sporting psyche. They're go-getters, and they'll be going for the jugular on Eden Park.
Of course, the All Blacks have a ton of upside. Nothing went their way in Sydney and they failed to create much that was positive. Their first-up defence line also didn't hurt the Aussies as much as they would have hoped.
If Ma'a Nonu can't play, I'd be comfortable with Ryan Crotty slotting in, either with Fekitoa or Conrad Smith. Crotty brought great energy off the bench in Sydney and deserves a crack at No 12.
On attack, the New Zealanders could sometimes do with being less pre-planned. I realise you need to work within a structure, but some movements looked too rehearsed, and I'd like to see them play more off the cuff.
But it's on defence where the All Blacks can really make an impact. They missed a lot of first-up tackles in Sydney and failed to create the opportunities off turnovers that they thrive on.
People wonder if the All Blacks have come back to the chasing pack. Certainly they don't have the same advantage skill and execution-wise as two or three years ago. Other teams have improved that aspect significantly. They don't seem able to bully teams as much either.
I wonder if the next step for the All Blacks is to go more freelance and regain that vibrancy and unpredictability.
I don't see Steve Hansen making too many changes that aren't injury-enforced. He'll give those guys another chance, and back them to respond from a sub-par performance.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned Jaco Peyper. Yes, he seemed a little harsh with those yellow cards, and he may not have been consistent with his rulings. But the conditions, and at times the All Blacks themselves, contributed more to their demise than the referee did.
■ The worst part of the weekend for me was hearing of the death of former All Black Kevin Barry. The loss of this absolute gentleman puts into perspective any talk of weather-marred spectacles and victory sequences. My condolences to the Barry family.