All Blacks' chilling warning to chasing pack
REACTION: All Black skipper Sam Cane is excited about where his new-look team can go after a dazzling masterclass against a “diabolical” Wallabies sent a chilling warning to world rugby.
The New Zealanders ran in six tries to one in the bonus point 43-5 rout at Sydney at the weekend – their highest winning margin against Australia, eclipsing a 43-6 victory in 1996.
It kicked off their Tri-Nations campaign in style and sealed the Trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year, building on a disappointing 16-all draw in Wellington before a hard-fought 27-7 triumph at Auckland.
The failure to win in Wellington sparked murmurs about how the team would fare under new coach Ian Foster and Cane, who took over from Steve Hansen and Kieran Read respectively after last year’s World Cup.
But after three games of their stewardship, concerns have been put to bed with the All Blacks back to their ruthless best and the prospect of better to come.
“I’m just so proud of the work we’ve put in over the last five to six weeks building up to this moment,” said Cane.
“It feels like we’ve improved every single week and I’m really excited about where this group can go.”
Foster was equally effusive, noting: “We’re building something here.”
New Zealand were electric in the opening half, exploiting Australia’s defensive frailties in scoring four tries with another two disallowed.
But they eased up immediately after half-time when Australia scored their only try, an aspect Foster said needed to be fixed ahead of the final Bledisloe game in Brisbane next weekend.
“There are a few areas to work on, we’ll go away and analyse it but I think in the third quarter we got caught a little bit early,” he said.
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‘Diabolical, dreadful, humiliating’
“The Wallabies certainly came out of the shed [in the second-half] a little bit stronger and motivated and we didn’t.
“And I think we saw that at Eden Park too, in the last quarter when we took the foot off the pedal, so we’ve got to address that.”
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga was the outstanding player for New Zealand, grabbing two tries, setting up Jordie Barrett’s late score and kicking 13 points for a match haul of 23.
Karl Tu’inukuafe, Dane Coles, and Rieko Ioane also crossed for the All Blacks.
It capped a horror show by a Wallabies side missing key playmakers James O’Connor and Matt To’omua, with Australian media laying in the boot Sunday, variously branding their performance “diabolical”, “dreadful” and “humiliating”.
“Look, all I’m going to say is, we’re going to keep working hard, we think we’ve got some good kids coming through,” said coach Dave Rennie.
“We need to respond immediately, and the plan is you’ll see that next week.”
Foster was graceful when asked about the Australian effort.
“I know it’s a tough result for them but I thought we saw a lot of determination and attitude out of them, particularly in that third quarter,” he said.
“It showed there is something building there that will guarantee the next fixtures are always going to be as tough as ever.”