Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: All Blacks trounce Wallabies

Israel Dagg celebrates scoring the only try of the match. Photo / Richard Robinson
Israel Dagg celebrates scoring the only try of the match. Photo / Richard Robinson

All Blacks 22 Wallabies 0

The Bledisloe Cup is staying in New Zealand for another year, retained by an All Blacks team which hardly needed to get out of third gear against the Wallabies tonight.

Eden Park has been such a graveyard for Australia over the past 26 years that another defeat shouldn't come as a particular surprise but there was a cruel tinge to his one. Steve Hansen's men didn't need to dig particularly deep to win it but still had far too much quality.

Ominously for Australia, they thought it was the best the All Blacks have played for years.

"Let's give credit to the All Blacks performance, they were outstanding tonight, they're a side which is playing with the confidence of world champions and I don't think there's any side in the world which could have footed it with them tonight,'' Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

A glum skipper Will Genia, who was sinbinned in the first half for a professional foul, felt it was the toughest match he had played in years and it was all the Aussies could do to stick with the home side.

Hansen's men saw it differently, though.

"The guys are pretty happy but I think there's a little sense that perhaps we blew a lot of opportunities,'' skipper Richie McCaw said.

"We perhaps could have got on top a bit earlier than we did but to have that cup again is pretty satisfying.''

Deans will now come under even more scrutiny as coach. His gamble of selecting Quade Cooper was the right one but probably came a week too late. In hindsight it would have made more sense to select him in Sydney last weekend in the hope of catching the All Blacks on the hop.

Instead, the playmaker was given the nod at a ground which has held plenty of horrors for him.

Tonight he was given a simple brief; spark something, anything, which might put a well-organised All Blacks defence under stress. He failed to do anything like it. He didn't even take the re-starts - Berrick Barnes did and one in particular caught the eye; the ball sailing over the touch line after Israel Dagg's try which had pushed the score to an unassailable 19-0. Barnes waved to his forwards as if they were at fault.

Dan Carter's fifth penalty of the night increased the score and the night was getting grim for Wallabies supporters, of which there were patches among the sell-out crowd of 48,000.

Execution was a major problem for the All Blacks in the first half. The ambition was good, the skill level not so, especially where cute pop passes were concerned.

After the early exchanges in which Australia dominated possession, the All Blacks gradually worked their way into good positions and Carter generally converted - he kicked six from seven after missing his first attempt. The Wallabies looked to spoil where possible - a good example was Will Genia's slap down of Cory Jane's pass while on the ground (for which he was sinbinned).

Jane and Sonny Bill Williams looked dangerous, with Dagg also prominent and the fullback almost scored in the corner but for a last-ditch tackle.

Liam Messam, too, impressed. He has good feet for a loose forward, and was a handful for the fringe defence.

The match was quickly over as contest after the break, as Carter kicked a penalty from 52m and was then involved in a long breakout also featuring Luke Romano. Kieran Read's inside ball put Williams close, before Dagg went over untouched.

Both Read and McCaw missed out on second-half tries due to poor handling, and Carter sent a howler of a pass to Hosea Gear with the line begging, perhaps mercifully for the men in green and gold, who were chasing shadows by the end.

Second-five Williams had an excellent final match for the All Blacks. There wasn't as much trickery, just powerful, direct running. He will be missed.

All of the All Blacks' reserves got a run, with fullback Ben Smith and first-five Aaron Cruden looking sharp.

For Deans it's back to the drawing board, although his time there might be limited, especially if the All Blacks clinch the third Bledisloe Cup test in Brisbane in October.

His side were close to the All Blacks in terms of the scoreboard in Sydney. Tonight the gulf in class was alarming, as was the final score.


All Blacks 22 (Israel Dagg try; Dan Carter 5 pens, con)
Wallabies 0
HT: 9-0

- APNZ

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