Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Rugby: All Blacks outclass Australia to keep Bledisloe

All Blacks 29 Australia 9

Lock up the cabinet and throw away the key. The Bledisloe Cup is staying in New Zealand and, at this rate, maybe it will never again know the feeling of having its base resting snugly on Australian soil again.

The gap between these two sides is significant - metaphorically, bigger than the Tasman which literally separates them.

Take any part of the game - any - and the All Blacks were streets ahead. Their lineout was like a French train with precision its only form of expression. The ability to pass under pressure came into its own in the second half. Again and again, the ball would be shot out of hands at incredible speed and with unfailing accuracy. Tacklers would fly up but, the ball would still be moving, from touchline to touchline and the Wallabies might even have begun to admire what they were so hopelessly trying to defend against.

The finishing was the only part missing, it wasn't as clinical or ruthless as it needed to be.

The show up to that point, though, was compelling.

Physically, there was no ambiguity about who had it there, either. The All Blacks stopped the Wallabies behind the gainline with thumping, driving two-man tackles. The Wallabies, scragged and ragged, did what they could but it was never enough. Not even close.

The Wallabies at least had more urgency, more desire to let the All Blacks know they were there. But they made their presence felt as much through niggle, off-the-ball stuff as they did with their work at the coalface.

There was barely a collision that ended without a bit of push and shove; a bit of verbal sparring and a whole lot of aggressive body language.

That sort of stuff is the Wallabies at both their best and worst. It's always good to see a team pumped, ready to make a physical stand. It is possible to overdo it, however, and the fact Wallabies lock Adam Coleman was sent to the sin-bin before halftime was no surprise.

He'd clearly been letting the red mist descend a little too much and he followed through with a needless late charge on Barrett. The game needed a card to calm it down and speed it up.

It also paved the way for the All Blacks to get on with landing the killer blow and give the game definitive direction. The All Blacks were in control of the first half - not in the same way they were last week - but they had enough possession, territory and dominance to suggest that, at some stage, they were going to break the Wallabies' resistance.

That's how it felt, but the Wallabies did enough to keep themselves in it. When Reece Hodge landed an enormous penalty to close the gap to 15-9, there was still the real possibility of the game swinging back to the Wallabies. One try and they could have been in front and, who knows, suddenly everything could have clicked for them.

Maybe ironically, but it was the second that Coleman returned to the field that the All Blacks put the distance they wanted between the two teams. A miraculous high ball take from Israel Dagg, a few huge passes across the field and Julian Savea stormed down the line - too big, too strong and too fast to be pushed into touch.

It's often the way with the All Blacks that if they can give themselves a buffer, a bit of breathing space, then their confidence flows, their passes stick a little more and, in no time, the tempo of the game can be electric, the opposition left scrambling and wondering just how bad things are going to be for them.

It's a bit of an art form that second-half surge and, when the All Blacks do it well, as they have done so many times over the last few years, no team survives it. Especially not one with the limitations of the Wallabies.

New Zealand 29 (I. Dagg 2, J. Savea, S. Cane tries; B. Barrett pens, 3 cons) Australia 9 (B. Foley 2 pens; R. Hodge pen).
Halftime: 15-9.

- NZ Herald

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