(AFP): A vintage All Blacks smashed Australia 38-7 Saturday to retain the Rugby Championship title and Bledisloe Cup as Eddie Jones’s gamble with a new-look Wallabies side backfired spectacularly.
The visitors reached the break with a 19-7 lead in front of 83,944 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and romped to a six tries to one win.
It was another hugely impressive performance from a team on a 10-game unbeaten streak as they ominously hit their straps ahead of the September-October World Cup in France.
Shannon Frizell, Codie Taylor and Will Jordan crossed in the first half to silence the bumper crowd, with Caleb Clarke, Mark Telea, and Rieko Ioane adding more tries in a devastating eight-minute second-half blitz.
“I’m delighted with that, it was on an iconic ground and it’s pretty special for us,” said New Zealand coach Ian Foster.
“To come away with that sort of victory is something we can be proud of. The way we were able to come through was really pleasing.”
Australia’s lone try came from Rob Valetini and with stand-in skipper Allan Alaalatoa stretchered off with a nasty leg injury, it was another miserable night.
Ill-discipline again let them down, with two yellow cards making their job near impossible.
Victory secured New Zealand the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship for the ninth time in its 11 editions and the prized trans-Tasman trophy for a 21st year with a game to play against Australia in Dunedin next month.
In contrast, it left the Wallabies in an ever-deepening hole as Jones struggles to find the right combinations.
They have now lost all three games since the former England boss took over, with time running out to turn it around.
While the All Blacks made just one injury-enforced change from their high-class defeat of world champions South Africa a fortnight ago, Jones gambled on seven new faces from the team that crashed to Argentina.
“Very disappointing result, clearly not good enough,” said Jones.
“Our first 20 minutes showed what we are capable of. But at the moment, when we put pressure on we can’t convert it to points.”
- Heads down –
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.”
The All Blacks made a blistering start with a try after only three minutes.
Australia executed a perfect lineout and fed the ball to Tate McDermott on his own try line, but a crunching tackle by Scott Barrett flattened the dazed scrum-half and the ball spilled to flanker Frizell.
Richie Mo’unga missed the conversion and the Wallabies immediately hit back when winger Mark Nawaqanitawase galloped into space and after a series of drives Valetini grounded the ball.
Carter Gordon added the extras to put the hosts 7-5 clear.
Unperturbed, New Zealand regrouped and began applying pressure which led to a penalty five yards out.
Mark Telea took a quick tap and dived under the posts, but the try was overturned with the winger’s boot not making contact with the ball to constitute a resumption of play.
In the melee, Wallabies dangerman Marika Koroibete was yellow carded for the deliberate off-side that led to the drama.
With Australia a man down, the All Blacks raised a level and a driving maul saw hooker Taylor flop over before Jordan bagged his 23rd try in as many Tests, in the corner.
Mo’unga made no mistake this time with the conversions for a 12-point half-time advantage.
Australia were livelier as the second half began after Jones made six substitutions.
But poor discipline again haunted them with prop Angus Bell sin-binned and New Zealand taking full advantage with three tries in quick succession as the Wallabies were forced into damage limitation.