New Zealand 57 Australia 22
The All Blacks overwhelmed Australia with a record 57-22 drubbing in Auckland on Saturday to make a winning start to the Rugby Championship and ensure the Bledisloe Cup stays in New Zealand for a 19th straight season.
Hooker Codie Taylor scored twice and Rieko Ioane, Brodie Retallick, Ardie Savea, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan and David Havili also grabbed tries as the hosts earned a bonus point and put paid to any notion that they are a fading force.
The visitors were still in touch at 21-15 down at halftime, but five tries in the second half comfortably secured the All Blacks a 22nd successive victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park in a winning streak stretching back to 1986.
Centre Havili’s try after the fulltime hooter gave the All Blacks their highest points tally in 118 years of tests between the two countries, bettering the 54 points they scored to crush the Wallabies in Sydney four years ago.
Australia, who had needed a win to keep the annual three-match Bledisloe Cup series alive after a 33-25 defeat last week, scored three tries through a brace from winger Andrew Kellaway and a Tate McDermott effort but fell away towards the end.
“Felt like we battled away in the first half but it was really nice that we got some dominance and put points on the board,” said All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock.
“Sure there’s always things to work on, but if you’d offered me a win at the start tonight, I’d have been happy, so really, really happy.”
The Wallabies had more possession but the All Blacks are past masters at the counter-attacking game, and time and again they ruthlessly punished the visitors for their errors.
Centre Ioane’s fourth minute try and the Reece score that took the lead to 38-15 14 minutes after the break both came from intercepts of lofted passes as Australia attempted to get the ball wide quickly.
The tries from lock Retallick and number eight Savea both came from broken play with the All Blacks showing once again that few teams can match them when it comes to moving the ball quickly and finding support players.
Scrumhalf McDermott’s try came just before the halftime break as Australia exerted real pressure on the home line, and they continued in the same vein early in the second half.
Savea was shown a yellow card two minutes after the break as the home side defended frantically, but a crooked lineout throw relieved the pressure and by the time the loose forward returned New Zealand had scored 10 unanswered points.
“We didn’t capitalise on that yellow card at all,” said Australia skipper Michael Hooper. “In fact New Zealand really put us to the sword there and showed their class.
“We didn’t respect the ball, couple of intercept tries . . . you do that against a team like New Zealand and they capitalise. We didn’t stay in the fight long enough.”
World champions South Africa, who sat out last year’s Rugby Championship because of concerns at the lack of preparation time for their players during the Covid-19 pandemic, return to the fray against Argentina in Port Elizabeth later on Saturday.