The All Blacks put last week’s defeat at the hands of the Wallabies well and truly behind them as they turned things on in emphatic fashion at Eden Park in Auckland, winning 41-13 to hold on to the Bledisloe Cup for yet another year. They have held the trophy since 2003.
Australia came out the blocks looking like they had a realistic chance of a fortress Eden Park upset, but midway through the first half the game changed complexion, and it was one way traffic from there on.
Dane Coles scored a thrilling, length of the field effort that included some vintage Dan Carter running, and a highly impressive step, sprint and fend from the mobile hooker.
There were other moments of brilliance too, with Nehe Milner-Skudder showing his quick feet and brilliant offloading ability, as well as some of the tight forwards combining to set Ma’a Nonu away for one of his two tries on the night.
In the end it was five tries to one, scored by outstanding Israel Folau late in the game, as the All Blacks laid down a marker for anyone looking to challenge them at the Rugby World Cup.
Nonu and Conrad Smith, the long-serving midfield combo, showed that they should be Steve Hansen’s first picks, despite the obvious temptation to select Sonny Bill Williams. Such is the depth of New Zealand rugby right now (always..), is that it’s a problem he will welcome when planning for his World Cup meetings with Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.
As for the Rugby Championship winning Wallabies, this was a lesson that Michael Cheika will need to learn from, as the changes made to the previous week’s side simply didn’t pay dividends. And Quade Cooper’s Eden Park hoodoo continued.