The Wallabies were desperate for a new beginning but the first Bledisloe of the year ran into a familiar and well-worn script.

It was a script the Wallabies have come to hate and one they hoped they wouldn't see this year – because it is one that does not bode well for them the rest of the series.

They were crunched at the scrum where they conceded a raft of penalties and they were unable to get their lineout to function with any degree of functionality. It was a disaster in fact.

In this modern age everyone talks about the tackled ball area being the defining facet of test football.


But that wasn't the case in Sydney at all – it was the old fashioned business of scrum and lineout that separated the two teams, that and the All Blacks' time-honoured ability to strike before and after the break and then shift up a gear in the second half.

Bledisloe Cup 2018:
Match report: All Blacks shine in second half to stomp Wallabies
Paul: Retallick steals the show with special performance
McKendry: All Blacks keeps asking the hard questions against Wallabies
Player ratings - All Blacks v Wallabies

Clunky and wooden for the first half hour, the All Blacks eventually settled when Aaron Smith was set free to flop over the line after half an hour and that changed everything.

The old swagger returned and they suddenly started to not only see the space, but radically improve their execution with it.

Their clinical head came on quickly and without warning and when Waisake Naholo stripped Marika Koroibete inside the All Blacks 22, they made three quick passes to leave Rieko Ioane flying into space before turning the ball back inside to Jack Goodhue who cantered 40 metres to score.

That was it, the All Blacks were in the groove for the rest of the game. Not lethal and deadly because they squandered a few opportunities that will irk. But certainly flowing and confident and certainly way too good for the Wallabies.

Their movement was clever. Their passing sharp and decision-making good and as the game became less structured, the All Blacks took control.

They are too good for anyone when it comes to playing free-form football. It's what they are all about and it sparked Beauden Barrett into life. His game grew as did his influence and the rest of the team drew from his confidence.


Goodhue and Waisake Naholo had huge games. Anton Lienert-Brown came off the bench and looked composed and creative and Ben Smith was Ben Smith.

By the end they looked like they were in fourth gear and cruising without a care in the world, epitomised when the quite brilliant Brodie Retallick threw a dummy to run 30 metres to score.

Brodie Retallick makes a break to score a try. Photo / Photosport
Brodie Retallick makes a break to score a try. Photo / Photosport

But however good they were in the final 50 minutes, they weren't so composed in the first half hour.

The All Blacks had a bit of trouble building their game. Not defensively – they got that bit right. Bang on in fact and whatever problems they had in June, they have fixed.

Their tackling was assured, their line structured and solid. That wasn't the case with their attack game which was a touch static at erratic.

There were too many basic errors for the Wallabies to be really stretched and without being able to build the continuity – not to the extent they wanted – the All Blacks couldn't manipulate their opponent to the point where the space properly opened up.

They could look threatening through four or five phases, but the key pass to create the critical mis-match so often proved beyond them.

Only once in the first half were they able to piece it together for long enough to crack the Wallabies and it was Ben Smith who opened the hole when he skipped through a weak Lukhan Tui tackle to offload to Naholo who hurled a near miracle inside pass back in field to Kieran Read who could then play Aaron Smith over the line.

Up until then, the All Blacks were a touch gun shy. Not quite on point until Smith struck and lit the fire.

New Zealand 38 (A. Smith, J. Goodhue, B. Barrett, B. Retallick, W. Naholo (2) tries; B. Barrett 4 cons)
Australia 13 (J. Maddocks try; B. Foley con, pen, R. Hodge pen)
HT: 5-6