Let that sink in.
Just 20 days after rugby appeared to be on the verge of a desperately needed new era, the All Blacks sent Australia crashing back to earth.
It’s not an exaggeration to say there was just one bright spot in the entire 80 minutes: Jordan Petaia’s run in the lead-up to Noah Lolesio’s try was brilliant.
Away from that, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the Australian attack. James O’Connor and Matt To’omua were predictably missed. Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone couldn’t have been much worse on debut. The bright lights of a must-win Bledisloe Cup clash clearly rattled the Brumbies pair. The Wallabies turned over an absurd amount of ball.
Every half break turned into a pushed pass. The kicking in general play lacked any sense of direction. And the forward pack couldn’t make any indent on the All Blacks defence.
The poor kicking allowed Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett to simply carve the Wallabies to shreds. The kick chase was staggered, at best.
Being back on home soil – despite the knowledge that ANZ Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for the Wallabies – was supposed to provide a proper guide as to where Rennie’s side really rate against one of the best teams in the world.
The absence of O’Connor and To’omua seemingly changed that equation. It left a match which appeared to offer more upside than down, given the Australians were about to roll out the first uncapped 10-12 pairing since 1985. Even the most optimistic of Wallabies fans would have accepted a loss was almost inevitable. Turns out there was far more downside than first thought. None of those optimistic fans would have seen this performance coming.
It leaves coach Dave Rennie desperately searching for answers after just his third game in charge. A return fixture at Suncorp Stadium awaits in seven days.
The record-breaking loss will mean there is absolutely no expectation on the Wallabies in that clash.
But playing well in that match will simply be another false dawn. You’d think Wallabies fans could spot one of those from a mile away by now.
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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.