Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia took nothing but positives from marking his 50th Test with yet another loss to the All Blacks, rating Saturday’s 41-33 defeat in Dunedin as Australia’s best performance of the year.
It has been a rough year for the Wallabies, who have now lost seven of 10 Tests but Genia saw increasing signs of improvement.
From handing Argentina a 54-17 hiding two weeks ago to avoiding the last place slot in the Rugby Championship, Genia believed they had lifted their game further to go within eight points of the championship titleholders.
“Regardless of the result I think it was our best game for the year,” he said, adding it was an ideal preparation for their upcoming northern tour where they face England, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“We managed to score points against a great All Blacks team, and score tries with that as well,” he added.
The Wallabies outscored the All Blacks two-tries-to-one in the second half, but the damage was done in the first 40 minutes when the All Blacks raced to a 30-19 lead by half-time.
It is now 12 years and 16 Tests since the Wallabies last beat the All Blacks in New Zealand, and Genia said despite going close on several occasions it was difficult to match the reigning world champions.
“It’s hard. They turn up week in, week out, emotionally, mentally, physically always on the money and any little lapse in concentration they’re very clinical and they score points against you.
“They’re the benchmark and you only get better if you play against the best.”
Australia captain James Horwill added: “We came here to win. We never like to lose but we’re proud of the effort the guys put in.
“We were always trying to win the game no matter what the scoreboard was and we went down swinging and that’s the commitment of the group.”
Horwill lamented his side’s sloppy handling.
“The turnover rate was too high,” Wallabies captain James Horwill said post match.
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie said his side improved on their previous two Tests against the world champions and were starting to express themselves.
“We’re getting some incremental improvement but obviously until you win these games you’re never going to be happy,” he said.
Six times in the opening 30 minutes the visitors carelessly gave away possession whilst attacking near the 22 metre line – two of which uncharacteristically by halfback Will Genia, who was celebrating his 50th Test.
“It doesn’t really matter who turns it over, the fact is that the team’s doing it and letting the pressure off,” Horwill said.
“In the end we let them off the hook.”