All Blacks thrash Wallabies to retain Bledisloe

All Blacks captain Kieran Read holds the Bledisloe Cup aloft after a dominant display over the...
All Blacks captain Kieran Read holds the Bledisloe Cup aloft after a dominant display over the Wallabies at Eden Park. Photo: Getty Images
Who's panicking now? Fresh from a week of soul-searching following their record loss in Perth, the All Blacks have retained the Bledisloe Cup at their Eden Park fortress with a victory that must register as a humiliation for the Wallabies.

There may have been fears of another Optus Stadium-type collapse once hooker Dane Coles was yellow-carded for what was described as an off-the-ball "judo throw" on Wallabies halfback Nic White three minutes before halftime – mirroring Scott Barrett's red for a shoulder charge late in the first half last weekend – but instead it was the Australians who went to pieces.

With lock Patrick Tuipulotu leaving the field to allow for Codie Taylor to join an attacking scrum, the All Blacks demolished the visitors in the set piece despite the numerical disadvantage, winning a penalty in the process.

They repeated the feat in the middle of the field just after the re-start, a show of domination that could haunt the Wallabies for some time, for it was reminiscent of what England did to the All Blacks in their victory in Wellington before the 2003 World Cup.

Passive in Perth, the All Blacks were eager and enthusiastic at the garden of Eden where they haven't lost since 1994.

It was easily their most complete performance of the year and while the pack will rightly win the plaudits for their shows of strength - and their driving play was far superior - the skill level among the men numbered 9 to 15 was extraordinary at times given the wet conditions.

No 10 Richie Mo'unga put in a complete display, including a brilliantly-taken first-half try, but provided one of the only pieces of bad news for Steve Hansen when he left the field in the second half with what appeared to be an elbow injury after being dumped over the sideline.

Winger Sevu Reece celebrates his second half try. Photo: Getty Images
Winger Sevu Reece celebrates his second half try. Photo: Getty Images
New wings Sevu Reece and George Bridge did everything asked of them and more, with the former scoring an incredible try after he fly-kicked the ball at full pace, and the latter sending Aaron Smith over in the first half and then scoring one himself at the end.

Midfielder Sonny Bill Williams ran a very brave line into traffic close to the line to dot down in the second half and was excellent defensively. Anton Lienert-Brown was incredible with his composure allied with his strength and Beauden Barrett was extremely sharp at the back. Looks like this dual playmaker business has some merit after all.

The home side's first two tries came via just the sort of pressure the slippery conditions warranted.
Just before the half-hour mark, the impressive Bridge pressured Kurtley Beale's pass to Reece Hodge and Mo'unga was there to pick the ball up and run in from 40m.

And two minutes later a poor Beale clearance found Barrett, and, not to be outdone by his fellow playmaker, he turned on the gas and sent Bridge slicing through a gap and the left wing put supporting halfback Aaron Smith over by the posts.

Coles was one of those everywhere and into everything, but, with the match officials on high alert for anything approaching foul play, went a little too far with White. It was only a yellow but it was unnecessary. But while it left the All Blacks with a man down, instead the Wallabies were exposed.

An extraordinary test – Hansen's 100th in charge of the All Blacks - after an extraordinary week. He and his men have a warm-up against Tonga in Hamilton in a fortnight before travelling to Japan for their World Cup defence. They will travel with confidence.

For the Wallabies and their coach Michael Cheika, it's back to the drawing board, and their Bledisloe Cup drought goes on – 16 years and counting.

All Blacks 36 (Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece, George Bridge tries; Mo'unga 3 cons, pen, Beauden Barrett con)
Wallabies 0
Halftime: 17-0

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