Richie Mo’unga scored 14 points as the All Blacks thumped the Wallabies 36-0 in Auckland to retain the Bledisloe Cup. JON CARDINELLI reports.
A lot was said in the wake of the All Blacks’ loss to the Wallabies in Perth last week. Some even tipped Australia to win in Auckland on Saturday and to end New Zealand’s 17-year reign as Bledisloe Cup champions.
In the end, however, this Bledisloe Cup story had a familiar ending.
The Wallabies failed to take their chances with ball in hand and in front of goal. They were duly punished by a determined All Blacks side on the counter-attack, and ultimately finished on the wrong side of the result.
The All Blacks were not at their best at Eden Park. They made elementary handling errors and their discipline – one of the biggest issues in the recent defeat in Perth – let them down at key moments.
And yet as the scoreline suggests, the All Blacks were streets ahead of a limp and rudderless Wallabies outfit.
The All Blacks’ tactical kicking was on point from the outset. They forced the Wallabies to scramble back in the early stages, and their defence created several counter-attacking chances.
Following a Wallabies’ knock-on, Mo’unga swooped on the loose ball and then sprinted down the touchline to score. From there, the All Blacks took control.
Hooker Dane Coles was shown a yellow card at the end of the first half after tossing Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White to the ground. The All Blacks managed to take a 17-0 lead into the break, though, and kept the Wallabies scoreless for the duration of Coles’ absence.
Sonny Bill Williams crashed over for the All Blacks’ third try to extend the hosts’ lead. At that point, the Wallabies were staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat.
Mo’unga was forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury on the hour. A reshuffle to the backline did little to hurt the All Blacks’ attack, though, as Sevu Reece chased a kick to score in the 68th minute.
George Bridge scored shortly before full time to complete the rout.
All Blacks – Tries: Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece, George Bridge. Conversions: Mo’unga (3), Beauden Barrett. Penalty: Mo’unga.
All Blacks – 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams , 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Nepo Lualala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Jackson Hemopo, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jordie Barrett.
Wallabies – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Photo: Renee McKay/Getty Images