Wednesday 13 December 2017

All Blacks underline their class

New Zealand rubberstamped their status as World Cup favourites with a 30-14 trouncing of Australia at Eden Park yesterday in front of 54,000 fans.

First-half tries for Ma'a Nonu and hooker Keven Mealamu, a second-half try by winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and 15 points from outhalf Dan Carter made sure the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup, which they have now kept from Australia since 2003.

The hosts' tenacious defence held the Wallabies scoreless in the first half, by which stage New Zealand led 17-0, and in total for 52 minutes, until winger Digby Ioane scored and Quade Cooper converted. Flanker Rocky Elsom added another try two minutes from the end.

"Our intent and purpose was there. We put the pressure on and that's what it was all about,'' said Kiwi skipper Richie McCaw.

Lineouts were relatively evenly contested, though the All Blacks used quick throws early in the match to establish a tempo Australia fought hard to contain. New Zealand even ventured to run the ball out of deep defence, showing a confidence and audacity unusual in a Test which was expected to be close and hard fought.

New Zealand sought to play with width and did so effectively. Australia still showed fragments of their attacking potential in the work of scrumhalf Will Genia, Cooper, fullback Kurtley Beale and wingers James O'Connor and Ioane.

"They were in our face all night. There was some space there, but we weren't turning that into points," said Cooper. "It was one of those nights, a lot of 50-50 balls that didn't come off. You can't really win when you are going backwards."

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