All Blacks blow the Wobblies away
BLEDISLOE CUP MATCH REPORT: New Zealand retained their winning run at Eden Park and a one-nil lead in the three-match series when they outscored Australia 33-25 on Saturday.
The final margin and four-all try count may suggest to the uninformed it was a close contest.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Three of the wobbly Wallabies’ four tries were scored inside the final 15 minutes, when the All Blacks had clearly taken their collective feet off the gas and the game was long over as a contest.
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The result also means the All Blacks have continue their Eden Park domination of Australia.
Andrew Kellaway’s first-half try had the Wallabies well poised on the brink of the interval, trailing by just one point (8-9) and about to run with the wind.
However, Reece Sevu scored on the half-time whistle as the All Blacks flicked the switch at their house of pain.
Richie Mo’unga ran 90 metres to score from an intercept, David Havili went over and Damian McKenzie capped a livewire performance by diving home in the corner.
Tom Banks overcame the embarrassment of a first-half falcon, running in two tries in the second half before Jordan Uelese’s late consolation effort for the Wallabies.
The scoreline flattered Australia.
The hosts had the game in the bag before the visitors’ late efforts, extending Australia’s Eden Park losing streak which began in 1986.
Noah Lolesio – who kicked 17 of 18 in Tests against France last month – kicked just 2 of 7 in a disappointing display from the young No.10.
The Wallabies have just a week to rectify their ills before a return to Eden Park for the second of three Bledisloe Tests.
Both sides started scrappily as Australia made a mess of four straight line-outs; only four straight All Blacks penalties saved their bacon.
In greasy, windy conditions, Mo’unga ticked the scoreboard over with penalties in the 18th, 21st and 28th minutes.
The capacity crowd howled roars of approval when Banks blundered a catch in the deep, misreading the ball in flight and wearing it on his face.
After fumbling early line-outs, the Wallabies stunned the All Blacks with a long throw into the arms of Hunter Paisami at top speed.
The centre bustled through All Blacks attention, offloading to Kellaway to score on his first Wallabies start.
The All Blacks had showed little interest in the try line to that point, but the scoreboard stung them into action.
Reece went over in the 40th minute, with Mo’unga’s conversion ensuring a 16-8 advantage at half-time.
Reece was denied one of the great tries after the restart – a nine-pass end-to-end classic which was overruled for a forward pass.
It wouldn’t matter though as Australia attack was thwarted when Paisami’s spread was intercepted by Mo’unga, who raced clear to score under the posts.
Dave Rennie rang the changes to little effect with the All Blacks now rampant.
On his 100th Test, Aaron Smith turned provider for two tries before exiting to a fine ovation from the Kiwi faithful.
With the game lost, Banks ran in tries on both flanks and Uelese finished the try-scoring – the Eden Park crowd offering Lolesio a bronx cheer as he finally kicked truly with the game’s last action.
Man of the match: Andrew Kellaway and Tate McDermott had their moments in the Wallaby backline. Michael Hooper was their most productive forward. All Black forwards like Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Akira Ioane and Brodie Retallick laid the platform, while Anton Lienert-Brown was impressive on attack and defence in the New Zealand backline. Our award goes to All Black flyhalf Richie Mo’unga – who finally settled the debate about his ability to step up at international level. After a nervous start, he produced an assured performance and scored the match-changing try. He kicked two conversions and three penalties for a personal tally of 18 points – with a turnover won for good measure.
Moment of the match: The Sevu Reece try in the 39th minute was significant. Following a line-out maul and a few pick-and-go moves, Reece picked up and went over from close range – just when it looked like Australia was getting back into the game. However, the Richie Mo’unga intercept try in the 52nd minute ended the game as a contest.
Villain: No real villains, except for the Australians’ questionable skills in the first hour.
For New Zealand
Tries: Reece, Mo’unga, Havili, McKenzie
Cons: Mo’unga 2
Pens: Mo’unga 3
Tries: Kellaway, Banks 2, Uelese
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Luke Jacobson, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Ala’alatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Reece Hodge.
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill and Mike Fraser
TMO: Glenn Newman
- Additional reporting by @rugby365com