The All Blacks returned to the victory trail courtesy of an impressive 36-0 victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
The result was sweet revenge for the hosts, who suffered a humiliating defeat to the Wallabies in their corresponding fixture in Perth seven days ago, and they also retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 17th successive year.
As the scoreline suggests, the world champions were full value for this win as they dominated all facets of play and eventually outscored the Wallabies by five tries to none, with Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge all crossing the whitewash. Mo’unga also slotted three conversions and a penalty, and Beauden Barrett also succeeded with a two-pointer off the kicking tee.
The All Blacks held the upper-hand from the outset and took an early lead courtesy of a Mo’unga penalty in the fourth minute after a scrum infringement from the Wallabies forwards.
New Zealand continued to dominate during the next 15 minutes but failed to convert that dominance into points. The Wallabies were slowly getting into the game but poor goal-kicking from Christian Lealiifano proved costly as he was off target with two penalty attempts shortly after each other, midway through the half.
Despite those misses, the visitors launched several attacks but there was no reward as they were met with a solid defensive effort from the All Blacks. In the 29th minute, an Australian attack went pear-shaped when Reece Hodge spilled a pass from Kurtley Beale on New Zealand’s 10-metre line and Mo’unga gathered the loose ball before racing away to score the opening try.
He added the extras and with a 10-0 lead, the world champions were growing in confidence. Three minutes later, George Bridge made a brilliant line break which tore the Wallabies’ defence to shreds before throwing an inside pass to Smith, who had an easy run-in over the try-line.
Once again, Mo’unga was successful off the kicking tee but New Zealand were dealt a blow in the 37th minute when Dane Coles was yellow carded for a dangerous challenge on Nic White.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the All Blacks finished the half the stronger and led 17-0 at half-time, although it could have been a bigger lead had Mo’unga not missed another penalty just before the interval.
The All Blacks continued to dominate after the break and shortly after the restart Williams ran a great angle close to the Wallabies’ try-line before crashing over for his side’s third try.
That score knocked the wind out of the Wallabies’ sails and, although they tried desperately to open their account, they battled to breach the All Blacks’ defence.
And in the 67th minute Reece showed great composure when he booted the ball upfield, deep inside the Wallabies’ half, before regathering to score his side’s fourth try.
With the game in the bag, the hosts continued to attack and sealed the win in the 77th minute when Bridge rounded off out wide after Anton Lienert-Brown did well in the build-up.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Mo’unga, Smith, Williams, Reece, Bridge
Cons: Mo’unga 3, B Barrett
Yellow Card: Coles
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jordie Barrett
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Adam Ashley-Cooper
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)