All Blacks retain Bledisloe Cup

Date published: August 15 2015

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New Zealand exacted revenge for last weekend's loss in Sydney with an outstanding 41-13 win over Australia, thus retaining the Bledisloe Cup.

It was a very different story to seven days ago as the All Blacks were relentless as they kicked on in the second-half, turning a 13-6 lead into the final result to cap Richie McCaw's special day with an ideal result at Eden Park in Auckland.

Tries were scored by Dane Coles, a penalty try, Ma'a Nonu (2) and Conrad Smith as the world champions go into the World Cup on a positive note.

It was an nervy start for New Zealand as they forced offloads out of rucks and struggled to contain the Wallaby backline, notably Israel Folau. And eventually Australia were rewarded with three points as Quade Cooper silenced the boos.

That kick on seven minutes didn't wake up the All Blacks as mistakes continued, with the world champions looking somewhat flustered on their home patch.

New Zealand did level matters on seventeen minutes when good work at the breakdown handed Dan Carter a shot from range, which he took superbly before the Wallabies looked to apply pressure in the 22. They certainly did that, but excellent defence kept them at bay.

To compound Australia's disappointment not to add to their tally, New Zealand broke through Carter on halfway as he scythed through like the Carter of old before setting up in-form hooker Coles who sprinted over from 35 metres out.

The sides would trade penalties around the half-hour mark to make it 13-6, with the latter offence, Conrad Smith taking out Adam Ashley-Cooper in the air, seeing the centre fortunate not to see yellow. Carter and Cooper were both striking it well.

Carter wasn't so solid with an attempted drop-goal on half-time, meaning the score was not altered going into the break.

New Zealand were this time the side on song early in the half and it took them just six minutes to put themselves in a commanding position, as wing Nehe Milner-Skudder's brilliant footwork before an even better offload led to Aaron Smith being taken high by Cooper five metres out. The penalty try was awarded and to compound Australia's woes, their fly-half was given his marching orders for ten minutes by Welsh referee Owens. The boos had turned to loud cheers for Cooper.

20-6 soon became 27-6 when Milner-Skudder was again involved, this time kicking down the line before recycled ball was swiftly moved along to Nonu who strolled over for their third try. With Carter's conversion, the All Blacks were dominating.

Their fourth try came thanks to Nonu's bust up to within ten metres and then he was on hand to fire out the assist to centre partner Smith, who was deserving of his crossing after a performance that silenced his recent critics. It was now 34-6.

New Zealand were now cruising against a Wallaby side that was a shadow of last week's team, with Nonu grabbing his brace on 65 minutes when he switched with Carter, brushing off scrum-half Nic White en route to the line. Steve Hansen would then empty his replacements bench which prompted one of the loudest cheers of the night as captain and world record appearance holder Richie McCaw came from the field. He would later get his hands on the coveted Bledisloe Cup.

For Australia this was a lesson and a psychological blow as they were outclassed in Auckland, with Folau's consolation try doing little to paper over what was a hugely disappointing day at the office that sends them into the World Cup shaken.

Man of the match: Plenty stood up for New Zealand after that Sydney defeat but one player who was brilliant in everything he did was Conrad Smith. His efforts in defence and attack saw him rewarded with a score as he edges out Ma'a Nonu.

Moment of the match: It was 13-6 when Nehe Milner-Skudder sliced through with a trademark step. What followed was an unreal offload that led to a penalty try. A close second has to be the ovation for Richie McCaw when he was replaced.

Villain of the match: It wouldn't be Eden Park and Australia in town without Quade Cooper being seen as the bad guy. His yellow for taking out Aaron Smith prompted New Zealand to up the pace and they never looked back from that moment.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Coles, Penalty, Nonu 2, C Smith
Con: Carter 5
Pen: Carter 2

For Australia:
Try: Folau
Con: White
Pen: Cooper 2
Yellow: Cooper (high tackle – 49 mins)

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jerome Kaino, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Kane Douglas, 21 David Pocock, 22 Matt Giteau, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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