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23 Aug 2014 12:05
Ben Smith (with ball) is tackled by Wycliff Palu during their Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. (Nigel Marple, Reuters)
New Zealand’s forwards responded to criticism of their performance in their opening Rugby Championship clash to set the foundation for a 51-20 victory over
Australia at Eden Park on Saturday that also ensured the retention of the
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who was sinbinned early in the game, scored
two tries while Kieran Read, Julian Savea and Steven Luatua also crossed, with
their pack awarded a penalty try as part of a record score against the
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden kicked five conversions and three penalties, while
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau and captain Michael Hooper crossed for tries
with Kurtley Beale adding two penalties and two conversions.
The victory ensured the Bledisloe Cup remained in New Zealand for the 12th
successive year. The third match in Brisbane in October is now a dead rubber in
terms of the battle for the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy.
The All Blacks had been pilloried for their performance in a 12-12 draw in Sydney
last week but responded in stunning fashion at Eden Park.
While Cruden and Beale traded early penalties, the sinbinning of McCaw in
the 13th minute for a professional foul galvanised the home side, who
controlled the ball the entire time their captain was on the sideline.
With the All Blacks leading 9-6, the tide of the match turned when Wallabies
lock Rob Simmons was sinbinned just as McCaw was returning.
The All Blacks exploited their man advantage at an attacking scrum, shunted
the Wallabies’ pack backwards and then disintegrated it with referee Romain
Poite awarding a penalty try.
Then they produced a sweeping counter-attack from inside their own 22 after
turning the ball over, spread it wide with Cruden drawing defenders before
offloading a perfectly timed pass to Savea outside him.
Cruden’s conversion gave the All Blacks a handy 23-6 lead at the break that
they extended with clinical brutality in the second half with a scintillating
10-minute burst that produced three more tries.
Read crossed after another superb counter-attack, while McCaw then grabbed a
brace of scores from attacking lineouts after the All Blacks had forced the
Wallabies into errors.
Folau and Hooper scored two quick consolation tries for the visitors and the
match essentially went through the motions for the final 15 minutes before Steven
Luatua scored a last-minute try that Aaron Smith converted to give them a
The All Blacks’ previous best score was the 50-21 they accumulated in 2003,
the year they regained the Bledisloe Cup.
Both sides now have a week off before their next Rugby Championship clashes,
with the All Blacks playing Argentina in Napier, while the Wallabies head to Perth
to host South Africa on September 6.
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