Planet Rugby

All Blacks too good for Wallabies

06th August 2011 08:16

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conrad smith all blacks v wallabies 2011

Number one: All Blacks set the pace at Eden Park

The All Blacks shut out the Wallabies in a first-half blitz to win their opening Bledisloe Cup encounter 30-14 at Eden Park on Saturday.

Any hopes Australia had of ending their 25-year Auckland drought were ripped to pieces by their dominant hosts, who charged to a 17-0 lead at the break and never looked like losing.

Due to a shortened version of the Tri-Nations (because of the World Cup), New Zealand's three-tries-to-two victory also sees them secure the Bledisloe Cup for another year.

It was a clinical display all round by the rampant All Blacks, who are now in pole position to claim yet another Tri-Nations title.

The Wallabies started and ended the match with plenty of promise, but it was the space in between that saw Robbie Deans' men capitulate to some ferocious defence from the home side.

The All Blacks knocked the stuffing out of their trans-Tasman rivals, often reversing the Wallabies' key strike runners and kept playmaker Quade Cooper quiet all night - New Zealand's steady pressure and suffocating defence denied the Aussie pivot the chance to regularly set his backline in motion.

Australia's cause was further undermined by poor goal-kicking, with James O'Connor' missing three successive penalties. But the same couldn't be said of Dan Carter, who was immaculate with the boot as the Wallabies were put to the sword.

Digby Ioane and Rocky Elsom did get on the board for the Wallabies in the second period, however they mere consolation tries and Australia never looked like threatening New Zealand's 23-match unbeaten streak at the Auckland venue.

The opening passage was played at a fast and furious pace, with both sides going at each other hammer and tongs. However, All Blacks centre Conrad Smith then affected a turnover in midfield which led to the opening score of the match.

Instrumental scrum-half Piri Weepu raced down the touchline, before linking with wing Sitiveni Sivivatu who got the attacking team close to the line. Flanker Jerome Kaino kept the ball alive and it was centre Ma'a Nonu who picked up the ball to drive through the legs to score.

Weepu's excellent work in keeping the ball in play was crucial in the All Blacks next try as loose forwards Kieran Read and Richie McCaw powered their way towards Australia's tryline. Held inches short, hooker Keven Mealamu got low and had the strength to place the pigskin on the chalk dust for the try.

The home side took a seventeen-point lead into the break, and Carter extended the All Blacks lead just after the restart with a drop-goal which was only the third of his 82-Test career.

The Wallabies gave a vivid reminder of their threat from broken field when they turned over possession in their 22m and shifted the ball to Digby Ioane, who stood up full-back Mils Muliaina en route to goal.

With O'Connor relieved of the kicking duties, Cooper landed a touchline conversion which would have galavanised his side.

However, it would be shortlived as the All Blacks struck back with their third try straight from the restart after Australia failed to control the ball.

Read put the pressure on the Wallaby jumpers, and the ball - which seemed to have been knocked on by the number eight - bounced and landed in Conrad Smith's hands. The centre set off down the sideline before passing inside to Sivivatu, who couldn't believe his luck.

Carter's conversion took New Zealand out to a 27-7 lead, which was soon stretched with another penalty goal before captain Elsom claimed a late consolation try for his beaten team.

Man of the match:Take a bow Piri Weepu. The nuggety number nine, who started a Test for the first time this season, did his World Cup chances little harm by making an emphatic statement to the All Blacks' selectors. He cleared possession quickly and with accuracy from breakdowns, creating the initial space that was exploited by Carter and Nonu in midfield.

Moment of the match: The 50th and 52nd minutes of the match. Just when you thought the Wallabies were launching a late comeback with Ioane's try (50th minute), the All Blacks put them back in their place with Sivivatu's reply (52nd minute).

Villain of the match: n/a

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Nonu, Mealamu, Sivivatu
Cons: Carter 3
Pens: Carter 2
Drop: Carter

For Australia:
Tries: Ioane, Elsom
Cons: Cooper 2

New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Samuel Whitelock, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Anthony Fainga'a, 22 Lachie Turner.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

By Dave Morris

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