All Blacks 41 Wallabies 33
- Georgina Robinson: Wallabies better, but still not the right result
- Paul Cully: Quade Cooper the perfect 10, but All Blacks just too good
One day the pain will make sense.
Another master class from the imperious All Blacks served to highlight everything the All Blacks are in rugby that the Wallabies are not.
Israel Folau of the Wallabies makes a break. Photo: Getty Images
Far from taking their foot off the gas after securing the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th straight year and the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks stepped it up a notch.
They didn’t have talisman Richie McCaw but it didn’t matter. They had confidence, skill and class. They had it in spades.
The Wallabies had Quade Cooper who, despite his 75th-minute overthrow, played his best game yet this season in front of a crowd more hostile than ever towards him.
Israel Dagg of New Zealand beats the tackle of Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images
They also had Tevita Kuridrani and Matt Toomua, who are laying claim to permanent places in the Ewen McKenzie-era Wallabies. But if they had skill they lacked execution. And if they had confidence it was soon dismantled, try by clinical try, in front of 29,000 ecstatic New Zealand fans at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
This time it was 41-33, the most flattering of unflattering scorelines against the All Blacks this year. Two months ago it was 47-29 in Sydney and 27-16 in Wellington. McKenzie will point to improvement.
But their own mistakes and mis-steps continued to kill the Wallabies. Every gain and attacking spark was matched and bettered by New Zealand and every mistake was punished.
The Wallabies executed a perfect kick-off – their first all season under McKenzie – and shovelled the pressure on with a beautiful break from Israel Folau. But a fumbled short pass between halfback Will Genia and No.8 Ben Mowen released the pressure. It would turn into a pattern.
Cooper, still New Zealand’s public enemy No.1 judging by the jeers and boos, gave the Wallabies first points with a penalty goal three minutes in. He would not miss a kick all night.
It was too easy for the All Blacks to hit back, a try to winger Julian “The Big Bus” Savea a clockwork move off the base of a ruck delivered to fullback Israel Dagg.
Cooper pulled one out of the bag next, calling for the ball when the Wallabies were deep inside the All Blacks 22. He slotted the drop goal, keeping the Wallabies in touch 7-6.
But two successive penalties in their own half made it hard work for the Wallabies, Cruden kicking the home side to a 13-6 lead.
Cooper added another three points to the Wallabies but the All Blacks called the shots, ratcheting up the pressure as soon as the visitors put a foot wrong.
They weren’t afraid to go for the jugular either. A superb cross field kick from a line out found Julian Savea waiting on the left wing and caught the Wallabies’ defence napping, No.7 Sam Cane scoring to make it 20-9 after the conversion.
Cooper and Cruden traded penalty goals but the Wallabies saw very little of their own half.
New Zealand, meanwhile, swarmed the Australian defences time and again until Cruden found the try line for his first of two tries.
Toomua came to the rescue, busting up the middle and into the All Blacks’ half to set up an Adam Ashley-Cooper try on half-time.
The Wallabies were chasing 30-19 at the break and the All Blacks kept their foot on the pedal but an intercept by Test rookie Kuridrani turned the flow of play on its head.
The Brumbies centre gave it to Toomua for the try and converted to make it 33-26 after a Cruden penalty.
It was not the last time Kuridrani would have an impact on the match but a try to All Blacks captain Kieran Read and a Beauden Barrett penalty goal ensured the game was out of reach.
One day the pain will make sense. Today it just hurts and frustrates.