The All Blacks ruthlessly exploited an inexperienced display from the Wallabies to claim a 43-5 victory in the Tri-Nations opener in Sydney on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Plenty was made in the buildup to the third Bledisloe Cup Test that the Wallabies would be fielding a backline with two debutants in flyhalf Noah Lolesio and centre Irae Simone, in the wake of injuries to James O’Connor and Matt To’omua, who have both been instrumental in the start of coach Dave Rennie’s reign.
Unfortunately for Australia, the young duo’s inexperience was highlighted in the worst way on Saturday as, together with the equally green Filipo Daugunu and Jordan Petaia, they struggled against a wily All Blacks side.
To their credit, the All Blacks wasted no time in testing the Wallabies’ new combinations, putting them under particular pressure under the high ball.
It certainly didn’t help the Wallabies’ cause that Daugunu, who spoke of ‘smashing’ Caleb Clarke in the buildup, was ironically yellow-carded for taking the All Blacks wing out in the air. That gave the New Zealanders the numbers advantage and incentive, which they used when Karl Tu’inukuafe slid over for the opening try.
From there, it was relatively one-way traffic in the first half – even when Jordie Barrett joined Daugunu in the sin bin after leading with the arm into a tackle – as the All Blacks continued to take the game to the tournament hosts, despite seeing tries from Dane Coles and Caleb Clarke chalked off by the TMO.
If that was a warning, the Wallabies certainly didn’t seem to heed it as Richie Mo’unga scored an excellent brace in between a maul try from Coles to put the All Blacks 26-0 up at the break.
Staring at possibly another heavy defeat by the All Blacks at the ANZ Stadium, the Wallabies needed an early boost in the second half. They achieved exactly that when Petaia got the ball in space and beat three defenders to go close to the tryline, before Lolesio scored a debut try.
Not that the Wallabies could get too much worse from the first half, but they were far more aggressive on defence in the second period, with their linespeed preventing the All Blacks from picking up the same momentum they had in the first period.
Regardless, the All Blacks still managed to get a quick-fire two tries at the death to seal the match, with Jordie Barrett and Reiko Ioane scoring to earn their biggest-ever winning margin over Australia.
Wallabies – Tries: Noah Lolesio.
All Blacks – Tries: Karl Tu’inukuafe, Richie Mo’unga (2), Dane Coles, Reiko Ioane, Jordie Barrett. Conversions: Mo’unga (5). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Wallabies – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hunter Paisami, 23 Reece Hodge.
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 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Reiko Ioane.
Photo: Matt King/Getty Images