All Blacks unleash to make history

By Gregor Paul at Eden Park

New Zealand 37 Australia 10

It took a bit of time for the machine to grind into gear and get on with the serious business of destroying the Wallabies and claiming a world record.

But grind and destroy it did and the All Blacks have now done what no other team has done and won 18 consecutive tests.

And to think, for a good 60 minutes, maybe longer, there would have been a few hearts in mouths such was the ebb and flow and uncertainty. Australia were good value for long periods. They even got to the point of being a genuine worry, of having the look of a spiteful big brother who was going to blow the candles out on little brother's cake.

Like so many other teams, though, they learned the hard way that it takes an 80-minute performance, probably an 85-minute performance, to beat these All Blacks.

When the game got to the bit where fatigue starts to bite and everything from decision-making to handling is compromised as a consequence, the Wallabies wilted and the All Blacks went up a level and smashed out three tries to change the game from a nail-biter to bit of a hammering.

It all happened so fast and if there is one particular thing that sets this All Blacks team apart, it is their ability to make maximum use of limited possession.

They don't need much time with the ball to score points and it's because of that, they have forced a few old truism to be reconsidered.

Rugby is not necessarily all about territory and possession when this All Blacks side plays. For long periods in the first half they didn't have the ball, and yet they finished it with three tries to Australia's one. They had to soak up a bit of pressure, have their defence tested more than it was in either of the previous two tests combined and engage in a scrummaging contest that the Wallabies obviously felt they were good enough to win.

It looked like real rugby in that sense - two evenly matched teams trying to find that tiny edge to get them in front. But it wasn't really like that because the All Blacks were so lethal with what little ball they had.

They nailed just about every chance and half chance that came their way. None was more important than the try to Julian Savea 12 minutes into the second half. The All Blacks had been riding their luck for the previous 10.

They were wobbling a bit, struggling to contain a Wallaby attack that was finally flowing and asking good questions. The All Blacks even had to rely on a TMO intervention to keep their lead - a try to Henry Speight being disallowed after an off the ball shove on Savea was detected.

These were nervous moments as for the first time since the World Cup final, the All Blacks were in a genuine dog fight - one that looked like it could go to the death. And the longer the Wallabies stayed in touch, the more their confidence grew.

But a knock-on by Australia when they were threatening to score, saw the All Blacks pounce and 15 seconds later Savea was under the sticks. It was that quick and that's why this All Blacks side is so hard to beat.

They didn't play particularly well. They didn't have the accuracy to match their urgency and there was a touch of hurriedness and maybe even nervousness about some of their work.

Perhaps the toll of the last month caught them a little, or the short preparation week or maybe they just felt a little anxious with the world record on the line. Whatever, they didn't have the authority they were after and the Wallabies controlled the game in the sense they played at the pace they wanted.

That was until the final quarter when they had the full wrath unleashed upon them.

New Zealand 37 (J. Savea 2, I. Dagg, A. Leinert-Brown, TJ Perenara, D. Coles tries; A.Cruden 2 cons, pen)
Australia 10 (R. Arnold try; B. Foley pen, con).
Halftime: 15-7.

- NZ Herald

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