Bledisloe Cup: Australia 29-47 New Zealand
All Blacks put Wallabies to the sword
August 17, 2013
Date/Time: Aug 17, 2013, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Australia 29 - 47 New Zealand
Attendance: 68765  Half-time: 19 - 25
Tries: Genia, O'Connor
Cons: Leali'ifano 2
Pens: Leali'ifano 5
Tries: Cruden, McCaw, BR Smith 3, CG Smith
Cons: Barrett, Cruden 3
Pens: Cruden 3

New Zealand opened up their defence of The Rugby Championship crown and the Bledisloe Cup with a 47-29 victory over Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • Man of the Match: A superb showing from Ben Smith was rightly rewarded with the official Man of the Match honour. The winger maintained his rich vein of form with a hat-trick of tries - the first player to achieve the feat against Australia since Doug Howlett in 2005. A real talent, he now has seven tries in his 16 Test appearances.
  • Key Moment: The Wallabies rallied after going behind early and claimed the lead for the first time in the game on the half hour mark only to throw it away. Centre Christian Leali'ifano was charged down just a minute later and All Blacks fly-half Aaron Cruden pounced for a try and the visitors were not headed again.
  • Hero of the Game: All Blacks captain Richie McCaw returned from his eight-month sabbatical and it was like he had never been away. There was some rust and the odd penalty but his try was due reward for his trademark outstanding work-rate.
  • Villain of the Game: We were promised that the days of the crooked scrum feed were over but the promised crackdown on those scrum-halves daring to feed the ball directly into the second row was not as ferocious as it could have been with referee Craig Joubert appearing to miss a few as he kept a close eye on the rest of the mechanics involved.
  • Talking Point: This game was the first high-profile Test outing for the new 'crouch, bind, set' scrum engagement sequence and as predicted it did not go that smoothly as the packs struggled to come to terms with the new protocols. It is a little early to draw conclusions as it is clearly going to take time for the players, coaches - and officials - to adjust.
  • Play of the Game: The All Blacks may have outscored their hosts by six tries to two but Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia arguably notched the pick of the scores. Flanker Michael Hooper swooped on a poor All Blacks lineout before feeding Genia who underlined his class by running in from 75m - leaving a handful of Kiwis in his wake.

The Wallabies entered the Ewen McKenzie era full of hope and excitement after their demoralising series defeat by the British & Irish Lions, but they now face the grim prospect of watching the All Blacks hoist the Bledisloe Cup for a 12th straight year in Wellington next Saturday. The Wallabies haven't beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in 14 Tests since 2001, and, even if they find a way to break the long drought, the series will be decided in Dunedin on October 19; not since 1949 have the Wallabies won back-to-back Tests in New Zealand in the same year.

The All Blacks outclassed McKenzie's men across the park as they claimed their 100th Test win against Australia: rookie fullback Jesse Mogg had a shocker, playmaker-cum-winger James O'Connor went missing; and Israel Folau barely touched the ball as Australia's grand plan to run the world champions ragged proved fanciful. Mogg was hooked after All Blacks centre Conrad Smith brushed him off to secure victory with New Zealand's fourth try in the 58th minute.

Rookie five-eighth Matt Toomua followed suit shortly after as McKenzie threw Quade Cooper into the fray for his first Test after 11 months in exile under Robbie Deans, but, trailing by 18 points with as many minutes remaining, Cooper faced an impossible mission and it was the All Blacks, in fact, who continued their tryscoring avalanche upon his introduction.

Winger Ben Smith, who opened the scoring in just the third minute and then nabbed a second early in the second half, completed his hat-trick eight minutes before full-time.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen hailed his players for their ability to turn strong defence into points, saying "we've been working really hard on capitalising on opportunities ... if we can lift the conversion rate from 50% to about 80-90% we're going to be scoring a few tries; we know we've got a good defensive side, too, so it means it's tough on the opposition".

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said: "Defence always sums up where your attitude is, and it's half the game; if you get that right you get a bit of ball to play with. Often a performance doesn't just happen; it's about a good preparation, and the guys set about their work pretty well this week."

McKenzie and James Horwill, meanwhile lamented Australia's defence, the Wallabies captain saying "you can't miss easy tackles against a quality side because they're going to hurt you" while the coach said "three or four tries we should have done better".

Christian Leali'ifano landed four penalty goals early and Australia actually led 12-10 after 28 minutes, but their advantage lasted only a minute before Man of the Match Aaron Cruden charged down a sloppy kick from the centre to score the softest of tries and slot the conversion. The All Blacks were in again three minutes later when O'Connor was caught off his wing and McCaw - playing his first Test in almost nine months after a sabbatical - dived over in the corner.

Will Genia scored a long-range effort on the stroke of half-time, after flanker Michael Hooper had pounced on an All Blacks lineout, to keep the Wallabies within striking distance at half-time. But three tries to the two Smiths put the Wallabies to the sword before O'Connor crossed in the dying seconds to gain a measure of compensation after a disappointing effort.

"It was a good start, but it is only a start and we've got to keep our feet on the floor for next week," Hansen said.

The All Blacks overpowered the Wallabies by feeding on Australia's mistakes (video available only in Australia)

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