New Zealand beat Australia 27-7 at Eden Park to take 1-0 lead in series
All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke wows in Bledisloe Cup Game Two
Clarke impressed in the domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament for the Blues earlier in the year, demonstrating the pace and power that have also proved so effective on the sevens circuit, and now he’s doing the same at international 15-a-side level.
The 21-year-old wing came off the bench to make his All Blacks debut in the closing stages of last weekend’s 16-16 draw with the Wallabies then, with George Bridge ruled out for six months after suffering an injury in training last week, Clarke was selected to start in the Bledisloe Cup tie in Auckland and he caused havoc with ball in hand.
He may be young but he is built for the physicality of the modern game, and he can balance that power with agility. There were numerous line breaks as Wallabies defenders struggled to contain him; Clarke skipped through outstretched arms and fended off would-be tacklers.
A prime example came at the start of the second period when he launched an attack from his own half that led to a try for Ardie Savea. You can watch it here…
Statistics don’t always tell the full story but they give a clear indication of Clarke’s impact on this match. He may not have crossed the whitewash himself but he made 123 metres – the only player on either side to reach triple figures – and beat 14 defenders – twice as many as any other player.
Clarke is the son of former All Blacks centre Eroni, who scored six tries in his ten Tests during the Nineties, and he has paid tribute to the influence of his father on his career, of the analysis and advice he provides.
In his post-match interview with Sky Sport NZ, he talked about how his dad would probably go over the match footage with him later that night…
The All Blacks’ victory means they take a 1-0 lead into the final two Tests of this year’s Bledisloe series. The next two matches take place in Sydney (31 October) and Brisbane (7 November), and the Wallabies will need to bounce back from this defeat and win both if they are to lift the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
Those two games will double up as fixtures in the Tri-Nations competition that has replaced the Rugby Championship for 2020 following South Africa’s decision not to participate.
The All Blacks Tri-Nations fixtures against Argentina are on 14 November (Sydney) and 29 November (Newcastle).
Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.