Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Rugby: Bug off! All Blacks destroy Wallabies

Australia 8 New Zealand 42
All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa in action against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa in action against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Wallabies spent much of the build up to this test suggesting no one rated them. They would appear to be a prescient bunch.

As destruction jobs go, this was total by the All Blacks. A performance for the ages such was its precision, skill, pace and artistry. In all the years of rivalry between these two teams, rarely has there been such a one-sided contest.

There wasn't a moment of drama or nervousness. After one half-attack which yielded a penalty, the Wallabies barely featured as a serious force.

They were, largely if not exclusively, awful - their ineptitude in direct contrast to the All Blacks' excellence and there really is now no confusion as to which of the two sides is under the most pressure.

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The Wallabies weren't able to even get the gun out of the holster, as it were, let alone fire a shot as much of the damage was inflicted in the first half, a period of supreme and relentless excellence from the All Blacks.

They owned the ball, they looked after it supremely well and their decision-making was faultless. The All Blacks looked so easy on the ball, so comfortable and confident.

Beauden Barrett was magnificent - assured, relaxed, accurate and deadly - and made so much happen. The Wallabies couldn't cope with his speed. He'd accelerate and be through a hole and, all of a sudden, there were acres of space opening up around him and tay calm, pick the right next play and drive the dagger in that bit deeper.

Video slideshow: Selection of images by Herald photographer Brett Phibbs

Video

His team-mates made it relatively easy for him with the way they angled their support lines, held their depth to ensure there were always a couple of options open to the ball carrier.

Kieran Read was always on hand to bash things a little further forward, as were Dane Coles, Sam Whitelock and Jerome Kaino. All of the forwards were and if there was one staggering difference between the two teams, it was the skill level of the respective packs.

The All Blacks forwards were able to offload at will - take their time, control the collision and then play the ball as they wanted. With so much momentum, the All Blacks were bordering on impossible to contain and the points stacked up quickly.

And the forwards, especially, didn't let the Wallabies breathe. They were ruthless at the cleanout to the extent it was hard to remember at times Michael Hooper and David Pocock were both playing. They destroyed the Australian lineout with their aggressive competition and maybe the biggest surprise of all was that they were able to pick off as many turnovers as they did.

That was down to their physicality which was precisely where coach Steve Hansen would have wanted it to be.

As that first half developed, the gulf in class began to look alarming. The All Blacks were able to exert crushing pressure with their defence and, with so much going against them, the Wallabies fell apart with the speed and class of badly-made shoes.

They were hit with horrific luck when Matt Giteau was forced off early and his replacement Matt Toomua didn't manage much more than 15 minutes before he also had to leave the field with concussion. Unbelievably, the next man, Rob Horne disappeared with what appeared to be a dislocated elbow before halftime.

It was all a bit cruel, but not an explanation for why they were so devoid of attacking ideas, so obviously lacking in confidence and structure. They ended up with nothing much else to offer that some badly executed hoofs in the air and that was after four full weeks of preparation.



Australia 8 (N. Phipps try; B. Foley pen)
New Zealand 42 (R. Crotty, B. Barrett, J. Kaino, W. Naholo, D. Coles, J. Savea tries; B. Barrett 3 cons, 2 pens).
Halftime: 3-32.

- NZ Herald

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