All Blacks blitz Wallabies ... again
All Blacks blitz Wallabies ... againSHARE
New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 10th straight year as they easily disposed of Australia in Auckland on Saturday.
The All Blacks showed their superiority, despite an improved performance by the Wallabies to win 22-0 in Round Two of the Rugby Championship – which doubled up as Bledisloe Cup fixtures, ensuring the Kiwis retain the trophy that epitomises trans-Tasman dominance.
It was a 13-point blitz inside the first 10 minutes of the second half that killed off the Wallaby resistance – two Dan Carter penalties and the conversion of Israel Dagg's try turned a respectable 9-0 half-time score into a commanding 22-0 lead.
There's an irony in all this. Last week New Zealand won by eight points. This week the Wallabies played better and lost by 22 points. Points, it seems, are not always the best indicator of performance. In fact it could have been a lot more than 22 as first Liam Messam, then Kieran Read and then Richie McCaw lost the ball forward when they could have scored.
New Zealand were much the better side and played the better rugby but handling and Wallaby determination kept them down to just one try. But the Wallabies themselves did not look like scoring any tries and for the first time since 1962 were kept without a point in a Test against New Zealand.
It was a great team effort by New Zealand in which Dan Carter, Sonny Bill Williams and Kieran Read shone. For Australia fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper was brilliant and his tackling saved two tries.
There were fewer penalties in this match – 17 as against 27 last week – and the Wallabies this time climbed into tackles with a will. The All Blacks did not have many chances of counter-ruck. The Wallabies were intense in tackling and in the after-tackle. Also Will Genia played quickly from tackled ball instead of his Sydney go-slow.
It was a good-weather evening at Eden Park which was packed with swathes of gold amidst the loyal black but this, the 145th Test between the two countries, started in somber fashion as the crowd stood to honour five New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan, one of them a woman.
Then came the ardent anthems, the menace of the haka, the excited countdown and Dan Carter's kick to start.
The start was something of an anticlimax as McCaw knocked on the kick-off and the Wallabies had three minutes' worth of attacking with pick-'n-drive. The All Blacks got out of trouble and Ashley-Cooper was penalised at a tackle. But Carter missed. The All Blacks, as they had done so effectively in Sydney, attacked from a scrum with Williams, Carter and Israel Dagg looking dangerous till Ashley-Cooper cut Dagg down.
Williams burst ahead, Carter carried it on and Messam was over the line with the ball till Sitaleki Timani took it off him for a drop-out to Australia.
Berrick Barnes, at inside centre this week, grubbered, which gave Dagg a chance to counterattack and the All Blacks were on the attack. Rob Horne was penalised at the tackle and this time Carter goaled. 3-0 after 25 minutes. That's how long the match was scoreless. In the second half the scoreless period was even longer – 32 minutes.
Just after this Genia was really silly at a tackle, playing the ball in the open as he lay there and he was sent off to the sin bin, leaving his side without a scrumhalf and a captain, and Carter converted the penalty into points. 6-0 after 29 minutes.
The Wallabies lost Drew Mitchell to injury, replaced by Kurtley Beale.
The All Blacks won a tighthead at a scrum and attacked. Ben Alexander and Michael Hooper were offside and Carter had the simplest of kicks to make it 9-0, which was the half-time score.
That became 22-0 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
First Stephen Moore was penalised for being within 10 metres of the landing of a high kick and Carter goaled from 51 metres. Then Beale knocked on a high kick and the All Blacks raced onto the attack through Williams. Carter carried it on and Williams got involved again till Dagg cut back and was over for the try near the posts – 19-0.
The Wallabies kicked the kick-off directly into touch. It was not their only silly kicking error. Quade Cooper, whom the unforgiving New Zealand crowd booed whenever they had a chance, failed to find touch from a penalty, then they were in front of a drop-out and now they kicked a kick-off directly into touch.
Williams burst from the scrum, the All Blacks attacked and Nathan Sharpe was well offside at a tackle/ruck – 22-0 after 48 minutes.
Australia had a kickable penalty but opted for an attacking line-out, which they lost. They had another penalty even closer and tapped. Barnes was close but a great tackle by Read saved for New Zealand.
The Wallabies mauled form a line-out and made good ground but Read stole the ball off them.
Aaron Smith had a sharp break and Read was pulled down just short of the line. He stretched out his long arms but lost the ball centimetres above the gaol-line.
Later in the half Read was again at the line and McCaw over the line with the ball but he lost it forward.
Beale kicked, Ben Smith countered and Corey Jane carried it on. It was all New Zealand now.
Aaron Cruden came on with Carter shifting to flyhalf and the two had brilliant moments on attack.
Man of the Match: It's a choice from three really – Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter and our choice Kieran Read who tackled with power, won turnovers, saved a try and won line-outs.
Moment of the Match: A try is always a great moment and there was only one – Israel Dagg's try.
Villain of the Match: One supposes it was Will Genia for silliness rather than malice.
For New Zealand:
Pens: Carter 5
Yellow card: Will Genia (Australia, 29 – professional foul, deliberately slapping the ball on the ground)
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.
Australia: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21. Anthony Fainga'a, 22 Kurtley Beale.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)