Wallabies suffer under physical approach
Australian defensive lapses, and handling issues induced by the All Blacks’ tackling accuracy, laid the foundation for a 27-7 win at Eden Park that gave New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the Bledisloe Cup series.
It was, as expected, a different All Blacks team from that which drew the first Test and they extended the run of time since they last won on the ground in 1986.
Outstandingly making his mark was left-wing Caleb Clarke. His bullocking running troubled the Australians every time he managed to get a full head of steam going, and that was plenty.
He was an inspiration to his teammates and the side lifted to his example.
Captain and flanker Sam Cane produced one of his finest games, and certainly the best of his captaincy career with crucial tackles, carries and turnovers in a first-half effort that stretched the stamina and execution of both sides.
His work was rewarded with a superb 53rd-minute try, created when fullback Beauden Barrett ran the ball back and saw some outstanding interplay between backs and forwards before first five-eighths Richie Mo’unga fed lock Patrick Tuipulotu who lobbed an overhead pass to Cane who scored.
In the absence of Sam Whitelock, Tupou Vaa’i had an outstanding game, both in his lineout work and in running the ball forward.
Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell showed the massive strides he has made in his game with some strong ball running, breakdown work and it was 45th-minute lineout steal in the All Blacks 22m area, that opened up the chance which resulted in a stunning try for No8 Ardie Savea.
It featured Clarke making another stunning midfield break.
Up 10-7 at halftime, the All Blacks seized the initiative after the break with Mo’unga taking a blindside option before the ball was moved back across field with second five-eighths Josh Goodhue ghosting a delayed pass to allow Jordie Barrett to score.
The tackling element was crucial as the Australians looked to commit New Zealand as they had in the first Test. But, it was the Australians who most often had their lines breached as a result of hard-running by Clarke and Goodhue, and clever work by Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett.
The combined efforts of Mo’unga and Barrett created the first scoring chance for the All Blacks in the 22nd minute. Mo’unga stepped the Australian defence, linked with replacement centre Peter Umaga-Jensen and hooker Dane Coles. Barrett stepped up to first receiver at the ruck from Coles’ tackle and put a long kick in towards the Australian line.
Wing Jordie Barrett chased hard and forced marker Marika Koroibete to carry the ball over the line resulting in a five-metre scrum.
As the ball emerged Goodhue charged hard at the line and from the goal-line ruck halfback Aaron Smith slipped around the side to score.
Soon after Australia gained a penalty advantage and loose forward Ned Hannigan charged into space, shaking off prop Joe Moody who suffered a head injury and was forced to leave the field, before linking with flanker and skipper Michael Hooper. The play ranged back across with prop Taniela Tupou carrying the ball forward before the ball was moved quickly for Koroibete to score.
Head knocks resulted in Lienert-Brown needing an HIA while prop Joe Moody was taken off the field and replaced with debuts occurring for Umaga-Jensen and prop Alex Hodgman, both making impacts almost immediately in their specialist areas.
Australia twice went close to scoring in the second half, the All Blacks holding up Koroibete over the line while hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa had a try ruled out for a double movement.
Scorers: New Zealand 27 (Aaron Smith, Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane tries; Richie Mo’unga 2 con, pen) Australia 7 (Marika Koroibete try; James O’Connor con). HT: 10-7
© 2020 Lynn McConnell