The All Blacks bounced back from their Bledisloe Cup draw with an emphatic 27-7 victory over the Wallabies in the second Test in Auckland on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The victory saw the All Blacks continue their unbeaten run at Eden Park, where they have not lost since 1994 and the Wallabies last tasted victory in 1986.
The All Blacks had come into the match looking for a massive improvement and response from their 16-16 draw in the first Test last Sunday, where the Wallabies were arguably unlucky not to have won.
As it was, New Zealand gave themselves a mental boost going into the Rugby Championship as they cut swathes through a Wallabies defence which seemed unable to complete their first time tackles.
Defence was ultimately the difference between the two sides. The signs were there for the Wallabies when they missed a remarkable 14 tackles in the opening 18 minutes. Somehow, the All Blacks only managed to score one try in the first half when Aaron Smith sniped over the line after an attacking 5m scrum.
The Wallabies were able to go into the break just three points behind after Marika Koroibete finished off an initial linebreak from Ned Hanigan, but the 10-7 half-time scoreline ultimately flattered the Australians.
However, the All Blacks were ruthless during the second half. It took just two minutes after the break for Jordie Barrett to score in the corner and from there the All Blacks took control of the match.
A special mention needs to go to Caleb Clarke, who shone on his first Test start for the New Zealanders. There were signs of him replicating his Super Rugby Aotearoa form after he came off the bench last weekend, but he was outstanding in Auckland.
The 21-year-old was dominant with ball-in-hand, seemingly beating a defender with his every touch of the ball and he played a massive role in the All Blacks’ third try – finished by Ardie Savea – with a powerful run from inside his own half. His standing ovation when he was replaced was entirely justified.
This is phenomenal.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 18, 2020
The Test match was ultimately decided when captain Sam Cane finished off another counter-attacking opportunity, giving the Wallabies a mountain to climb with a 20-point deficit. It was notable that just before Cane’s try, the All Blacks had survived a period on their own tryline. A try-saving tackle from Anton Lienert-Brown ensured that Koroibete was held up over the tryline, before the TMO chalked off hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa’s try for a double movement.
That period – between the 50th and 60th minute – was a perfect encapsulation of how the All Blacks won the big moments and ultimately outclassed their opponents.
All Blacks – Tries: Aaron Smith, Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Wallabies – Tries: Marika Koroibete. Conversions: James O’Connor.
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Damian McKenzie.
Wallabies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Jordan Petaia, 23 Reece Hodge.
Photo: MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images