Sat, 05 Dec 2020

An aggressive All Blacks team downed Australia 27-7 with a rollicking second half in Auckland on Sunday to answer their critics after an incoherent performance in last week's drawn first Bledisloe Cup Test.

After the dramatic series opener, which ended 16-16, the All Blacks led 10-7 at half-time and scored three quick tries after the restart as they piled on 17 unanswered points in the second period.

Bruising wing Caleb Clarke, who had the crowd on the edge of their seats every time he touched the ball, led the way on his debut as the All Blacks played with a renewed physical presence and cohesion.

It was the seventh time in the past 13 years that the three-times world champions have started the annual Bledisloe Cup series with a mediocre performance and immediately bounced back.

The four-tries-to-one victory also dented Australian optimism about their new era under coach Dave Rennie, and extended the All Blacks' impressive record at Eden Park, where they have not lost in 44 Tests since 1994 and where Australia have not won since 1986.

They now need to win only one of the two remaining games in the Bledisloe series, which will be played in Australia as part of the upcoming Tri-Nations tournament, to retain the trophy they have held since 2003.

- Blockbusting Clarke -

After being bullied at the breakdown in the first Test, there was added steel to the All Blacks pack with the inclusion of Dane Coles and the tension was evident from the start when almost all 30 players joined in a shoving match between Coles and Taniela Tupou.

When the dust settled, it was constant Wallabies attack for most of the first quarter until a carving run by fullback Beauden Barrett put the All Blacks deep in Australian territory, where fly-half Richie Mo'unga opened the scoring with a handy penalty.

Barrrett, Sam Cane and Aaron Smith were frequently able to highlight frailties in the Wallabies defensive wall and within five minutes of Mo'unga's penalty they had the All Blacks back on attack where Smith darted around a ruck to score from close range.

Dan Hanigan, wearing gold for the first time in two years, set up the Wallabies' try with a strong run up to the line, creating a huge overlap which saw Marike Koroibete finish off the move unopposed.

But when play resumed in the second half it was a three-try All Blacks blitz in the opening 13 minutes as Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea and Sam Cane crossed the line in quick succession.

Savea's try was off a blockbusting run by Clarke, in his first Test start, who brushed off would-be tacklers in a 30-metre run.

The Wallabies had chances to add to their total but Koroibete was denied one try when he was held up over the line and another when he was brought down just short of the line.

Tries: Aaron Smith, Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane.

Conversion: James O'Connor

Source: News24

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