All Blacks put Wallabies to the sword
August 17, 2013
Winger Ben Smith scored a hat-trick for the Kiwis in their mauling of the Wallabies in Sydney
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New Zealand opened up their defence of The Rugby Championship crown and the Bledisloe Cup with a 47-29 victory over Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins
The Wallabies entered the Ewen McKenzie era full of hope and excitement after their demoralising series defeat by the British & Irish Lions, but they now face the grim prospect of watching the All Blacks hoist the Bledisloe Cup for a 12th straight year in Wellington next Saturday. The Wallabies haven't beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in 14 Tests since 2001, and, even if they find a way to break the long drought, the series will be decided in Dunedin on October 19; not since 1949 have the Wallabies won back-to-back Tests in New Zealand in the same year.
The All Blacks outclassed McKenzie's men across the park as they claimed their 100th Test win against Australia: rookie fullback Jesse Mogg had a shocker, playmaker-cum-winger James O'Connor went missing; and Israel Folau barely touched the ball as Australia's grand plan to run the world champions ragged proved fanciful. Mogg was hooked after All Blacks centre Conrad Smith brushed him off to secure victory with New Zealand's fourth try in the 58th minute.
Rookie five-eighth Matt Toomua followed suit shortly after as McKenzie threw Quade Cooper into the fray for his first Test after 11 months in exile under Robbie Deans, but, trailing by 18 points with as many minutes remaining, Cooper faced an impossible mission and it was the All Blacks, in fact, who continued their tryscoring avalanche upon his introduction.
Winger Ben Smith, who opened the scoring in just the third minute and then nabbed a second early in the second half, completed his hat-trick eight minutes before full-time.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen hailed his players for their ability to turn strong defence into points, saying "we've been working really hard on capitalising on opportunities ... if we can lift the conversion rate from 50% to about 80-90% we're going to be scoring a few tries; we know we've got a good defensive side, too, so it means it's tough on the opposition".
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said: "Defence always sums up where your attitude is, and it's half the game; if you get that right you get a bit of ball to play with. Often a performance doesn't just happen; it's about a good preparation, and the guys set about their work pretty well this week."
McKenzie and James Horwill, meanwhile lamented Australia's defence, the Wallabies captain saying "you can't miss easy tackles against a quality side because they're going to hurt you" while the coach said "three or four tries we should have done better".
Christian Leali'ifano landed four penalty goals early and Australia actually led 12-10 after 28 minutes, but their advantage lasted only a minute before Man of the Match Aaron Cruden charged down a sloppy kick from the centre to score the softest of tries and slot the conversion. The All Blacks were in again three minutes later when O'Connor was caught off his wing and McCaw - playing his first Test in almost nine months after a sabbatical - dived over in the corner.
Will Genia scored a long-range effort on the stroke of half-time, after flanker Michael Hooper had pounced on an All Blacks lineout, to keep the Wallabies within striking distance at half-time. But three tries to the two Smiths put the Wallabies to the sword before O'Connor crossed in the dying seconds to gain a measure of compensation after a disappointing effort.
"It was a good start, but it is only a start and we've got to keep our feet on the floor for next week," Hansen said.
The All Blacks overpowered the Wallabies by feeding on Australia's mistakes (video available only in Australia)
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John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September