Clinical All Blacks down Wallabies
August 6, 2011
New Zealand's Conrad Smith stretches Australia's defence during their clash at Eden Park
© Getty Images
New Zealand took a big step towards retaining their Tri-Nations crown with a 30-14 victory over Australia clash at Eden Park.
Tries from centre Ma'a Nonu, hooker Keven Mealamu and winger Sitiveni Sivivatu along with 15 points from the boot of fly-half Dan Carter saw the hosts make it two from two in this year's battle for southern hemisphere supremacy. The Wallabies battled their way back into the contest with second half tries from winger Digby Ioane and flanker Rocky Elsom but did not have enough to pip their clinical Trans-Tasman rivals.
Played in perfect conditions, in front of a crowd of 54,500, New Zealand showed a clarity of execution in attack that the Australians were simply not able to emulate. The All Blacks' faultless support play in the first half made them a potent threat in the Wallabies' half and while the visitors ran the ball often, it was without the conviction achieved by the home team and the sizeable 17-0 half-time lead proved a bridge too far for the visitors.
The All Blacks dominated the early stages and took the lead through a Carter penalty after five minutes, and a few moments later they had the game's first try. Scrum-half Piri Weepu found space down the Australian right wing from a ruck, and a couple of phases later Nonu showed great strength to hold off a couple of tacklers before muscling the ball over the line. Carter's conversion gave the All Blacks a 10-0 lead.
The Wallabies nearly scored from their first real opportunity midway through the half, but Elsom was forced into touch near the goal line as the All Blacks' defence continued to frustrate their rivals. Australia were not deterred and continued to press with Ioane just failing to overhaul a Cooper crossfield kick before it went into touch-in-goal.
Australia's inability to take their chances came back to haunt them after 26 minutes when Mealamu forced his way over from a ruck near the posts with Carter's conversion taking his side out to a commanding 17-0 lead.
The Wallabies problems were compounded by some poor place kicking from winger James O'Connor who saw three kicks fall wide of the posts and his side fell further behind when Carter stroked over a drop goal shortly after half-time.
But just as the Wallabies' ill fortunes prompted the crowd to start a Mexican wave, they struck. A turnover on their 10m line allowed them to put Ioane into the clear, and he raced around Mils Muliaina with an in-out swerve to score 10m from the right wing corner. Cooper landed the conversion and his side appeared to be back in the contest.
But the home team's response was immediate. From the kick-off, Conrad Smith pounced on a loose ball, that looked as if it had been knocked on by No.8 Kieran Read, and sprinted down the touchline before setting up Sivivatu to score. Carter landed the sideline conversion to restore the 20-point margin.
A Carter penalty stretched the score to 30-7 before a Cooper-orchestrated move saw Elsom cross for his side's second try. While Cooper's conversion attempt was successful it was too little too late and the All Blacks closed out a well deserved victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham