All Blacks humiliate Wallabies
August 23, 2014
New Zealand's Kieran Read congratulates Julian Savea for his try
© Getty Images
New Zealand have delivered a clinical performance to humble Australia at Eden Park and retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 12th year in succession, scoring six tries to two in topping the half-century.
Australia arrived in Auckland confident of ending their 28-year drought at Eden Park, after having the better of territory and possession in the 12-12 draw in Sydney the week previously, and they got off to a perfect start when Kurtley Beale kicked a penalty goal from in front after New Zealand had obstructed the Australian chasers from the kick-off.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors as the world No.1-ranked All Blacks delivered a major statement with their best performance since defeating the Springboks in an epic contest at Ellis Park last October.
New Zealand's Richie McCaw lifts the Bledisloe Cup © Getty Images
The All Blacks had spoken in the week of going "back to basics" to assuage their disappointment at the previous week's result, "lifting 10 or 12 notches" and that is what they did - delivering brutal physicality at the breakdown and a clinical catch-and-pass game plan that featured straight and hard running and quick ball movement to stretch the Wallabies.
They showed a different mindset, too, when they elected to tap and go from kickable penalties before Aaron Cruden kicked two goals. The Wallabies must have thought, though, they were well set when Richie McCaw was sin-binned for infringing at a ruck and Beale levelled the score with the ensuing kick. But they were unable to take advantage of their one-man advantage, with the All Blacks managing the ball and play to take the lead again with a penalty. Wallabies lock Rob Simmons was then sin-binned for lifting a leg at a ruck, and the All Blacks showed them exactly how to play against a short-handed opponent - being awarded a penalty try as the Australia scrum went backwards on their goal line.
New Zealand then also showed the Wallabies exactly how to take advantage of an opportunity, after Israel Folau had made a length-of-the-field bust. Australia worked the ball wide right only to lose control of a ruck from which Cruden and Julian Savea passed back and forwards before 'The Bus' crossed at the other end of the field.
New Zealand's Aaron Smith makes a break © Getty Images
"The first 30 minutes, we had to work pretty hard, and perhaps a couple of tries we got were breakouts," McCaw said of the performance. "But you've got to take those opportunities and I thought for most part, bar apart 10 minutes in the second half, we controlled the rest of the game."
McCaw said the performance - and hence the result - was achieved by "guys doing the simple things pretty well: catch and pass, good carries ... that's the way to play footy. The guys worked hard this week, and the fluency of the ball was what set us up to score some points."
The All Blacks crossed again, through Kieran Read, after a counter-attack that saw Savea kick ahead before Malakai Fekitoa was held up, and McCaw claimed a brace after rolling mauls from identical nine-man five-metre lineouts.
Australia struck back with tries through Folau and Michael Hooper as they finally managed to maintain possession without errors, but 16 turnovers and 19 missed tackles told the story of a team unable to handle their hosts - who had the final say when Steven Luatua crashed unopposed under the posts as the siren sounded.
Hooper lamented the Wallabies "weren't clinical".
New Zealand's Steven Luatua runs in to score a try © Getty Images
"We couldn't build pressure," the Wallabies captain said. "They put good kicks in, we fumble the ball; we get in their A-Zone we fumble the ball. That's a reoccurring problem we had last week. You can't back-to-back problems you bring in from the previous week. We've got to move forward."
Ewen McKenzie said the All Blacks were just too good on the night.
"They put a lot of pressure on us, and we didn't handle it," he said. "it was really disappointing. We're really unhappy with the result and really unhappy the way we went about it ... they were good. They carried the ball well, they kicked less, they played more football, and they re-grouped [from Sydney], they played off turnovers particularly well.
"We just didn't deal with it ... you've got do a better job."
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