Rugby Championship: New Zealand thrash Australia 51-20 to retain the Bledisloe Cup
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: 23/08/14 12:49pm
New Zealand maintained their hold on the Bledisloe Cup and laid down a marker in the Rugby Championship with an emphatic 51-20 victory over old rivals Australia in Auckland.
The sides had drawn 12-12 in a rain-soaked affair in Sydney last weekend, but Australia never looked like producing a similar result at Eden Park where their last victory came some 28 years ago.
Skipper Richie McCaw had an eventful match as he scored two tries and was sin-binned, while Julian Savea, Kieran Read and Steve Luatua also touched down as the hosts ran riot - eventually posting a record win over their neighbours.
Australia had made the ideal start after Conrad Smith was penalised for blocking Michael Hooper from the opening kick-off - Kurtley Beale putting his side ahead from the resulting penalty inside the first minute.
The All Blacks come roaring back, though, a ferocious response saw them come close to breaching the Australia try-line before Aaron Cruden – who finished with 19 points – kicked a couple of penalties to nudge them ahead.
McCaw saw yellow for only the second time in his Test career on 13 minutes as the referee spotted him reaching out whilst on the floor to deliberately prevent Australia from spinning out quick ball from a ruck - Beale kicked the subsequent penalty to level the scores.
But the numerical deficit did not prevent the hosts from regaining the lead shortly afterwards when the retreating Australian defence were pinged following an earlier break by Aaron Smith, allowing Cruden to kick his third penalty.
Australia also then lost a man as Ben Simmons was shown a yellow card for lifting the leg of an All Black forward during a rolling maul, although Cruden missed the opportunity to extend the lead as McCaw re-entered the fray.
Made extra man count
However, unlike their rivals, New Zealand would make the extra man count, firstly securing a penalty try with a big push against the depleted Australia pack from a five-metre scrum after the rampaging Brodie Retallick was held up over the line.
Things would then go from bad to worse for the Wallabies as, having been deep in the All Black 22 following a brilliant break from Israel Folau, they spilt the ball allowing Cruden to break from deep before laying off to Savea who cruised home unopposed for his 24th Test try.
Cruden converted both scores to ensure New Zealand headed in at the interval with a 23-6 advantage.
Although the Wallabies came out with renewed purpose at the start of the second half, they could not find a score to get themselves back into the contest and instead it was the All Blacks who touched down next to all but kill the game.
A sweeping move from inside their own half resulted in Savea putting in a well-judged kick that was collected by Malakai Fekitoa and, whilst the replacement was hauled down just short of the line, Kieron Read was on hand to dive over from the next play.
The bonus-point try was not long in coming, a well-worked move from a line-out resulting in McCaw driving over at the back of a maul for his tenth try against the Wallabies and he quickly added an 11th with a virtually identical effort minutes later.
Australia belatedly demonstrated some attacking prowess of their own when Folau powered over on an angled run and Hooper added a quickfire second for the visitors as the livewire flanker burst off the back of a scrum to dart over.
Both tries were converted by Beale, but fittingly it was New Zealand who had the last word, replacement Steve Luatua diving over under the posts in time added on to seal a thumping victory.
The Rugby Championship 2014
Head coach Daniel Hourcade hailed the Argentina players and staff following their first win in the Rugby Championship.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer was delighted to see his side end a three-year losing streak against New Zealand.
Pat Lambie kicked a long-range penalty with two minutes remaining to give South Africa a 27-25 victory over New Zealand.
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