New Zealand confidently thrashes Australia
New Zealand put in a convincing display as they thumped Australia 41-13 to ensure they retained the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Australia stunned New Zealand to win The Rugby Championship last weekend, which give them an opportunity to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
However, the All Blacks, who had not been beaten at Eden Park since 1994, blew away the men in gold. They touched down five tries in total, four of which came after the break while the Wallabies scored a conciliation late on through Israel Folau.
Hooker Dane Coles scored the first half’s only try before after the break dominant centre Ma’a Nonu touched down a pair of scores with Conrad Smith and a penalty try making up the five. Dan Carter converted all five tries superbly as well as kicking two penalties.
But while the New Zealand No.10 answered his critics superbly Quade Cooper had a second sin-bin in as many games, which was the period in which the All Blacks took full control. Cooper did score two penalties, with Nic White converting Folau’s try to make up the visitors small points total.
Cooper and Carter exchanged penalties early on before Australia, despite dominating the territory, fell behind when the All Blacks opened the try-scoring in spectacular fashion through hooker Coles.
A lovely inside pass from Carter had released Coles before he burst 40 metres, using his back like speed to avoid any challenges, to touch down after 22 minutes. And Carter added the extras to give the hosts a seven-point lead.
Carter added another three points from the tee but Cooper responded with a penalty of his own, and that is the way things remained at the break, 13-6.
Early in the second half Nehe Milner-Skudder broke away before miraculously offloading between two defenders to Aaron Smith, who looked certain to score before a high tackle from Cooper. The penalty try was awarded, and Cooper was subsequently sin-binned. Carter kicked the extras from in front of the posts to put New Zealand 14 points up.
And with the man advantage the All Blacks would take full control, scoring two quick-fire tries through Nonu and Conrad Smith to take a 34-6 lead.
Nonu scored the first when he burst through a gap with power to touch down for his 28th Test try after 51 minutes, with Carter converting confidently.
The centre then turned provider three minutes later when his phenomenal long pass found Conrad Smith in acres of space out wide, and he touched down unchallenged for his 26th Test try and fifth against the Wallabies. Carter converted to take his test point total at Eden Park to 200 and extend the hosts lead to an uncatchable 28 points.
Even back up to full numbers the Wallabies could not cope with the free-flowing All Blacks. They were undone again by the pace and acceleration of Nonu, who powered through for his second try of the night after 65 minutes. Carter superbly converted yet again, 41-6.
Folau demonstrated his class with three minutes to go as he claimed a highball spectacularly before counter-attacking down the wing unobstructed to score, and Nic White converted.
The triumph was the icing on the cake for All Blacks Skipper Richie McCaw, who became the most capped player in Test rugby history as he surpassed Brian O’Driscoll’s record with his 142nd Test Appearance.
Although he is yet to confirm his retirement, McCaw is widely expected to hang up his boots after the World Cup.
Man of the match- Ma’a Nonu
Ma’a Nonu’s return from a shoulder injury was key to the All Blacks much improved display against the Wallabies. The 33-year-old has not lost a step and showed his attacking ability in abundance with two tries and an assist. He will be a big loss next year when he hangs up his international boots to join French club Toulon.