All Blacks sweep Wallabies aside
July 31, 2010
New Zealand's Mils Muliaina dives over to score at the Etihad Stadium
© Getty Images
New Zealand powered to a 49-28 victory over Australia at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday to take a stranglehold on this year's Tri-Nations.
Two tries from fullback Mils Muliaina plus further scores from fly-half Dan Carter, flanker Richie McCaw, wingers Cory Jane and Joe Rokocoko and replacement Corey Flynn saw the All Blacks sweep their cross-Tasman rivals aside and remain on course for the southern hemisphere crown. The Wallabies had taken an early lead through a try for winger Drew Mitchell but the speedster was sent-off at the start of the second-half for his second yellow card offence. Further tries to fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper and flanker Rocky Elsom added some respectability to the scoreline but they were always second best to a rampant New Zealand side.
The All Blacks wasted no time in underlining their counter-attacking prowess with Muliaina bursting through in midfield, but the Wallabies gave as good as they got with Matt Giteau, restored to fly-half in place of the suspended Quade Cooper, and James O'Connor carving the visitors open with apparent ease. The All Blacks conceded an offside penalty as they desperately re-grouped and Giteau converted - via the woodwork - to open the scores.
The lead was short-lived with Carter making Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore pay for an offence at the breakdown with an excellent long-range kick. But the All Blacks' No.10 went from hero to zero in a moment with Mitchell charging down a clearance before scooping up the loose ball to score in the corner. Giteau hit the post again with the conversion but this time his effort bounced wide.
The reply from the All Blacks was swift. Carter's rollercoaster of a game continued with a charge down of Berrick Barnes' attempted clearance and the grateful No.10 claimed the ball before falling over the line for the try. His conversion gave New Zealand the lead for the first time in the game and it was not long before they were celebrating again.
Flanker Jerome Kaino won the initial turnover before lock Brad Thorn and hooker Keven Mealamu kept the ball alive in midfield. It was then worked wide to wing Jane, who showed great skill and awareness to kick on as he ran out of room. Muliaina was the beneficiary, crossing for the third try of an electric opening period.
A scrum penalty against the All Blacks allowed Giteau the chance to stem the All Blacks' tide but he pulled his effort wide. The Wallabies' No.10 was given an immediate chance to atone for his error when Thorn was caught offside and he slotted the kick to keep his side in touch.
It was then the turn of the New Zealand forwards to punch through the heart of the Wallabies but some mighty defence from the hosts, with flanker David Pocock at its core, eventually forced the turnover. And the Wallabies pack scored another minor victory shortly after with Owen Franks sent to the sin-bin for dangerous use of the shoulder following another bruising exchange, although replays suggested he may have been harshly treated.
The All Blacks responded to the setback in impressive style with another clinical piece of rugby. A kick from Carter put Ashley-Cooper under pressure and a big tackle from centre Conrad Smith resulted in a turnover, with McCaw swooping in before darting up the shortside and racing away for his side's third try. Carter's conversion hammered home his side's advantage.
And there was more trouble for the Wallabies just moments later with Mitchell shown a yellow card for a shoulder tackle - a decision which left the winger perplexed. The next penalty went the way of the home side and Giteau reduced the arrears from straight in front while his skipper Elsom bent the referee's ear about what as he saw as the All Blacks' spoiling tactics. But the Wallabies' frustration worked against them with Carter gifted the chance to cancel out Giteau's effort.
Australia's indiscipline continued to hamper them with Jane the next to cross the whitewash. A smart lineout move rocked the Wallabies back on their heels before the ball was worked back to Jane, who fended off No.8 Richard Brown and scrum-half Will Genia to grab a classy score in the corner. Carter's conversion saw him eclipse Wales' Neil Jenkins to move to second in the all-time Test points scorers list.
The outlook was bleak for the Wallabies when the red card was shown to Mitchell in the opening moments of the second half. Having previously warned both sides about their attempts to spoil the game, referee Craig Joubert ran out of patience with the Wallabies. Mitchell's decision to slap the ball out of Smith's hands as he attempted to take a quick lineout, and the fact he had already seen yellow, sealed his fate.
Unsurprisingly, it was not long before the All Blacks worked an opening with Carter gift-wrapping a second try for birthday boy Muliaina, which was converted by his fly-half. To their credit, the Wallabies rallied with Elsom and Giteau going close, but the door was shut time and time again by the All Blacks. It looked like they had been eventually rewarded for their patience and perseverance with Pocock forcing his way over from close range but the score was ruled out by the Television Match Official.
But there was joy for the home crowd just before the hour mark when a rare defensive lapse from the All Blacks and some great handling from Ashley-Cooper led to a well-deserved try. Giteau's conversion closed the gap but the All Blacks responded with yet another lesson in how to get the job done. Quick ball and accurate passing stretched the Wallabies before the ball found Rokocoko, who celebrated becoming the All Blacks' most-capped winger of all-time with his 46th Test try courtesy of a neat twist and stretch in the tackle.
The Wallabies battled bravely and were rewarded further with Elsom taking advantage from some lazy defending to grab his side's third try. Giteau's conversion added a little more respectability to the scoreboard, where they still trailed by 16 points.
Australia were on course to win the second half at least but replacement Corey Flynn got on the end of one last sweeping move to notch New Zealand's seventh try. Carter's conversion was wide, sparing the Wallabies the ignominy of suffering a record defeat.
Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum.