Disappointed Jones says Wallabies are a 'work in progress'
It was truly a nightmare Bledisloe Cup clash at the MCG, losing the trophy to the All Blacks for a 21st year and also prop Allan Alaalatoa to a ruptured Achilles.
While the largest crowd in more than 20 years – 83,944 – turned out, Australian fans left disappointed with the Wallabies going down 7-38 – now winless in their three Tests under coach Eddie Jones.
The All Blacks, in contrast, are unbeaten in wrapping up the Rugby Championship.
Two late tries in the first half on Saturday put New Zealand ahead 19-7, and then the wheels fell off the Wallabies with the visitors crossing three times in eight minutes to put the result out of reach.
They were again let down by some sloppy defence and poor discipline.
The Wallabies’ outing was further soured with star prop Alaalatoa stretchered from the field in the 37th minute with a ruptured Achilles, ruling him out of the World Cup in France in September.
The 29-year-old’s leg got caught as a scrum went to ground while they also lost his replacement Taniela Tupou, playing his first Test back from his own Achilles injury, early in the second half with a rib injury.
Jones lamented his team’s inability to turn pressure into points.
(Eddie Jones recaps his team’s loss to New Zealand…)
“Obviously very disappointed about the result,” Jones said.
The scoreline, that’s a real negative for us,” Jones said.
“Big crowd – we wanted to show that this was a new team.
“The first 20 [minutes] I thought we showed what we’re capable of at the moment when we put pressure on we can’t convert that pressure to points and that’s a step we need to take but we’re not good enough at the moment to do that.
“All in all, disappointing.
“The team’s still a work in progress.”
All Blacks coach Ian Foster was delighted.
“I think to come away with that sort of victory is something to be pretty proud of,” he said.
“To walk away with a couple of trophies is pretty special.”
Wallaby co-skipper James Slipper was equally frustrated but said his side would keep plugging away.
“That first half was an extremely tough encounter, but we fell short in the second,” he said.
“We’ll keep our heads down and keep working hard and be the better for it.”
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The Kiwis opened the scoring when lock Scott Barrett smashed Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott off a line-out, dislodging the ball with Shannon Frizell pouncing for a try.
The home side levelled soon after when a try by Marika Koroibete was denied, however the Television Match Official ruled that No.8 Rob Valetini had got the ball down over the line in an earlier phase.
Jones’s plan to try and out-muscle the All Blacks with a big, physical pack worked early on as the Wallabies put their rivals on the back foot and had the upper-hand at the breakdown.
But the New Zealanders absorbed the pressure and waited for errors to take advantage, regaining the lead 12-7 in the 34th minute.
While All Blacks wing Mark Telea mucked up trying to score off a quick tap, Koroibete was yellow-carded for deliberate off-side.
With Australia down a man New Zealand mauled the ball across the line through hooker Codie Taylor.
In typical Kiwi fashion, they then kept the ball alive for 21 phases before winger Will Jordan scored after the halftime hooter.
The Australians had all the ball and territory early in the second half but couldn’t find a way to the line while the All Blacks made the most of every chance.
They were helped with Tupou being given a retrospective yellow card for a high tackle, which meant his replacement Angus Bell was unable to enter play for 10 minutes.
Jones lauded the performance of Koroibete and fellow wing Mark Nawaqanitawase while Bell was a stand-out in the forwards.
The second Bledisloe Cup Test will be played in Dunedin early next month which is Australia’s last match before heading to France.