New Zealand 27 - 16 Australia, The Rugby Championship
All Blacks retain Bledisloe Cup
ESPN Staff
August 24, 2013
Date/Time: Aug 24, 2013, 19:35 local, 07:35 GMT
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
New Zealand 27 - 16 Australia
Attendance: 35583  Half-time: 15 - 6
Tries: BR Smith 2
Cons: Taylor
Pens: Dagg, Taylor 4
Tries: Folau
Cons: Leali'ifano
Pens: Leali'ifano 3
New Zealand's Richie McCaw and Tony Woodcock hold the Bledisloe Cup, New Zealand v Australia, Bledisloe Cup, The Rugby Championship, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, August 24, 2013
Tony Woodcock celebrates his 100th Test cap in the best fashion
© Getty Images

New Zealand continued their dominance and mastery of Australia in the Rugby Championship Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday to retain the Bledisloe Cup, a trophy the Wallabies are now yet to hold since 2002.

The Wallabies dominated possession and territory for the opening 30 minutes of the first half, but the All Blacks then scored 15 unanswered points to take a grip on the Test as the visitors were left to lament once again poor one-on-one defence and an outgunned scrum. Ben Smith scored two tries in the final 13 minutes of the first half, including a sucker punch on half-time, to turn the tide of the match, and the Wallabies never recovered as they struggled to play catch-up in the second stanza.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers

  • Man of the Match: Ben Smith bagged another brace of tries to go with his hat-trick in Sydney, but Steven Luatua produced a performance to have All Blacks selectors and fans alike asking "Liam Who?" when Messam is fit to resume. The Blues and All Blacks tyro confirmed the high opinion of admirers with his physicality in the loose, line-breaking ability with ball in hand, and soft hands in a number of movements.
  • Key Moment: Kieran Read pulled down a midfield bomb in the 25th minute, and the All Blacks put the ball softly through hands, including Luatua's mitts, on the right side to send Ben Smith clean through for his first try. New Zealand had barely been in the game to that point, but the try, converted from the sideline by Tom Taylor, saw momentum shift towards the hosts, who were never thereafter going to lose the match.
  • Hero of the Game: Tony Woodcock became only the fourth New Zealand All Blacks player to rack up a century of Test caps, and only the fifth prop, and he produced an immense performance in the set-piece to mark the occasion. He gave Australia's Ben Alexander a bath in the scrum, and Richie McCaw was fulsome in his post-match praise. Tribute, too, to Tom Taylor for a fine Test debut, kicking 14 points, after a shocking nervous first effort, and organising the backline with great efficiency. It is said the All Blacks machine all but runs itself, but certainly it hummed as efficiently as it did in Sydney and few folk noticed the absence of Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.
  • Villain of the Game: Jaco Peyper perplexed the Wallabies with a number of rulings in the 16-8 penalty count in favour of the hosts. The All Blacks outplayed their opponents in the biggest moments of the game, but the Wallabies were not dominated throughout the game to the extent suggested by the penalty count, and Australian fans, players and coaching team can wonder what might have happened had the South African reached for his cards as the Kiwis committed a number of professional fouls in the opening 30 minutes.
  • Talking Point: Mr Peyper chose not to go upstairs to consult the television match official when awarding the penalty from which Australia opened the scoring, despite the protestations from a number of Wallabies, notably run-on debutant Scott Fardy, that Stephen Moore had scored a try. Television replays suggested Australia's hooker could have been awarded a five-pointer, although who knows whether a double movement or a bobbled grounding would have been found. The technology's there for you to use, Mr Peyper, and certainly neither you nor your touch judge was in a position to see.
  • Play of the Game: Ben Smith's second try featured a super half-break and pop pass from Ma'a Nonu before a searing linebreak from Steven Luatua to link with his wide runners. The play showed to best advantage the All Blacks' broken-field play, and their ability to punish an opponent's mistakes.

Australia failed once again to involve Israel Folau to any great intent, but he did give them a late glimmer of hope with a 75-metre intercept try before New Zealand iced the result with their fifth penalty goal.

The All Blacks have now defeated Australia in 15 consecutive Tests in New Zealand, dating back to the Carisbrook Test in 2001, and their Bledisloe Cup victory celebrations were given extra fizz with grizzled prop Tony Woodcock having become just the fourth Kiwi to win 100 caps. Woodcock also celebrated having played a key role against Wallabies scrum anchor Ben Alexander, who was also guilty of costly errors around the ground.

"We were made to defend for a while, we were perhaps beaten to the punch a little bit for the first 30," New Zealand captain Richie McCaw said.

"But I'm proud of the way the guys stuck in there. The momentum changes in games at times, and we just had to wait for our opportunities; and we took them ... .we were under the pump there for a while and to keep them to only six points is handy; then we made the mistakes of theirs pay. We reflect on the past two weeks and it's by no means perfect, but to get the win and realise you've still got areas to improve on is why you keep turning up."

The Wallabies looked good in claiming a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter, and they can feel unlucky not to have been ahead by more. The All Blacks were fortunate not to have Ma'a Nonu sin-binned for a 20th-minute shoulder charge on James Slipper, while No.8 Kieran Read could have been yellow-carded for a cynical professional foul at the ruck after a 40-metre break by Christian Leali'ifano. Australia played direct rugby and unsettled the All Blacks' lineout, but they failed to take maximum advantage of their opportunities. By contrast, the All Blacks scored at will when they had possession in dangerous positions.

Smith scored his first try after Read had claimed a midfield bomb and the All Blacks caught the Wallabies short with quick hands down the right side.The winger scored his second try after Nonu had buckled through Matt Toomua's tackle before feeding Steven Luatau to run through Alexander.

Australia could have regained the lead after half-an-hour, if not for a dubious overturned penalty 30 metres out straight in front, but they cruelled themselves in promising positions for the remainder of the match - highlighted by their inability to finish a 70-metre break by James O'Connor just after half-time. With the backline set but ignored, Alexander was penalised for not releasing after a series of bash-and-barge pick and goes from the ensuing penalty and driving maul.

The teams play a third and final Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin - a non-Rugby Championship fixture - in two months' time. Before then, the teams each must play South Africa and Argentina home and away to conclude their Rugby Championship campaign, and Wallabies captain James Horwill conceded "we've got to be better for 80 minutes".

"There were parts good but we weren't good enough for 80 minutes," Horwill said.

"We let them into the game: we did some stupid things and they capitalised; we've got to be better. We need to make sure we get those 50-50 balls and we don't turn over easy possession. When we put them under pressure and worked them down in their end, we looked good; then we let balls slip, we let balls drop, and they jumped on balls, we dropped high balls and gave them momentum, and in the end they capitalised with points."

New Zealand confirmed their trans-Tasman dominance in Wellington (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd with AAP

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