The Wallabies’ wait for a win at Eden Park will continue for another year at least after the All Blacks bounced back from an unconvincing opening game of this year’s Bledisloe Cup series with a powerhouse performance in Auckland.
New Zealand registered a four-tries to one victory over their trans-Tasman rivals in front a largely delighted near-full house of 46,049 after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted earlier this month.
The victory erased memories of a 16-16 draw in the first game last week and also gave them the advantage in retaining the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy, which they have held since 2003, as the series moves to Australia for the final two matches.
“They were better this week,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said. “They got the better of us ... and were very good in turnover and capitalised on our mistakes.”
The Wallabies put the All Blacks under enormous pressure early on before the home side increased the pace of the game and began to break tackles, with fullback Beauden Barrett and winger Caleb Clarke making several strong runs.
When coach Dave Rennie was asked to try to sum up what the difference in the seven days was, he had just two words. “Tackle execution,” Rennie said, pointing to the Wallabies missing more than 30 tackles in Auckland. “We missed too many tackles and we got put under the heat for it.”
Richie Mo’unga slotted a 19th-minute penalty as the territorial pressure told before scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored a try four minutes later from an attacking scrum.
Mo’unga converted to give the All Blacks a 10-0 advantage before the Wallabies again showed how dangerous they can be with the ball in hand when Marika Koroibete crossed after a turnover and James O’Connor’s conversion narrowed the gap to 10-7.
Clarke then was the catalyst for two tries within the space of three second-half minutes to Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea with two powerful runs, the second where he bounced out of several tackles, to give the home side a 20-7 lead.
Some superb defence by Mo’unga stopped Koroibete from scoring his second try shortly after, before hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa had a try overturned by referee Angus Gardner. All Blacks captain Sam Cane finished off a sweeping movement less than 90 seconds later to give them a 27-7 lead that ended the Australian challenge.
“You can’t give the All Blacks that much ball, they have too many athletes that can hurt you,” Rennie said. “But the boys are working hard and I’m pretty confident that in two weeks we will be a better side.”