New Zealand beat Australia 27-7 in a pulsating Bledisloe Cup Test match at Eden Park, Auckland.
The All Blacks scored four tries to one to increase their unbeaten run at fortress Eden Park to 44 Tests going back to a 1994 defeat to France.
The Kiwis have now followed the previous eight Bledisloe Cup draws with a win; they go into the up-coming Tri-Nations in Australia 1-0 up in the famous four-match Trans-Tasman series.
The Wallabies’ barren spell, going back 34 years to 1986 and 20 Tests (9, 604 days), continues at the famous old ground as the former World Champions keep one hand on the Bledisloe Cup.
Ian Foster’s charges came into the Test smarting after the 16-all draw in Wellington.
They played with intent and at a high tempo, and Dave Rennie’s men could not keep up with the intensity, falling away in the second stanza, as the All Blacks cruised to victory in the City of Sails.
Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, and Ardie Savea were sensational, starring in the convincing victory.
Player-of-the-Match Caleb Clarke was sensational. He was the only player to make over 100 running metres, while running over, through and around gold jerseys all afternoon.
The left wing made 138 metres on eight runs with two line breaks, breaking 11 tackles in the process as the 21-year-old son of Eroni Clarke swatted gold jerseys aside in a dazzling display for the ages.
Clarke’s acceleration after breaking tackles had shades of the great Jonah Lomu about it as the opposition fell off the 108kg beast. Everything about the young winger screams class.
To put that in context the young flyer’s performance, New Zealand‘s total run-metres were 516m from 105 runs, while Australia missed 40 tackles.
Beauden Barrett, returning to the side at fullback, also dazzled in another virtuoso.
The playmaker made two line-breaks from 10 attacks, gaining 88 metres. He also totalled 110 kicking metres in a fabulous all-round contribution.
Savea scored a try and made a try-saving steal on his try line in the first half. The No 8 gained 51 run metres from nine attacks, beat three defenders while making 16 tackles.
Aaron Smith, Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea and Sam Cane all crossed for the Kiwis, who scored 17 unanswered second-half points.
Foster’s side kept the visitors scoreless for the last hour of the contest, with a ferocious defensive display, after Marika Koroibete’s 30th-minute score brought the Australians back into the game.
A tight first half saw both teams score, but the All Blacks looked the better team.
New Zealand dominated the first half but only led 10-7 despite having 63% possession; however, they only had 37% of the territory as the Aussies went toe-to-toe.
Australia conceded seven turnovers to five while missing 24 tackles to 10; half of those missed tackles were on Beauden Barrett and Caleb Clarke, who were sensational in open play.
Shannon Frizell (twice), Anton Lienert-Brown, and Savea (on the try line) won important turnovers inside their half with the Wallabies bearing down on the goal-line.
Richie Mo’unga opened the scoring in the 19th-minute before another sublime series of counter-attacks from Aaron Smith, debutant Peter Umaga-Jensen, Clarke, and Beauden Barrett.
Jack Goodhue carried from a scrum but was stopped short of the line.
Bledisloe Cup Two: New Zealand versus Australia at Eden Park, Auckland
Aaron Smith looked up and darted around the side of the ruck for his 21st Test try. Mo’unga converted.
But the Wallabies hit back with a sensational score of their own following a blistering 11-phase attack.
Koroibete scored his 14th Test try on the half-hour. Ned Hanigan, Hooper, Tupou, and Harry Wilson were all involved in the flyer’s try as the winger got the visitors on the board.
Cane eschewed a kickable penalty before the interval, but the Kiwis went into the shed up by three.
All Blacks come out firing as they took control of the match with an early double strike.
The home team scored two unconverted tries through Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea in the opening six minutes of the second stanza.
Jordie Barrett finished off a sublime sustained attack (eight phases) to run in untouched for his 13th Test try. Clarke, Mo’unga, and Coles, who was involved in everything, were all instrumental in the score.
Clarke was unstoppable. The winger beat six tackles, bumping off defenders willy-nilly as he broke into the opposition’s 22 to set-up Savea’s try.
The Kiwis recycled quickly, sending the ball to Savea, who spun out of Filipo Daugunu’s tackle to score.
Mo’unga could not convert.
Captain Cane scored in the 53rd-minute after the Australians botched two try-scoring opportunities before the skipper waltzed in.
Mo’unga made no mistake this time to open up a 20-point lead with 26 minutes remaining.
New Zealand closeout win as Australia’s errors hampers the visitors, who could not break the black wall.
Koroibete was held-up by Mo’unga after a powerful run, then Brandon Paenga-Amosa was not awarded a try because of a double movement, which led to Cane’s try, a couple of minutes later.
Australia made too many mistakes to have a chance of a famous comeback and conceded 20 turnovers. This is too many at the international level, never mind against the All Blacks.
They had 59% of territory but only 45% possession, which is nine-tenths of the law, and had missed 38 tackles to 19 at a rate of 70% success by the 63rd-minute.
There was almost another crazy finish in added time after both teams attacked, and counter-attacked until an 84th-minute knock-on by the visitors, ended the thrilling Bledisloe Test.
New Zealand ground the clock down and held on for a deserved win. And a superstar is born.
Final Score: New Zealand 27 (10) Australia 7 (7)
Tries – A. Smith, J. Barrett, A. Savea, Cane
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Tries – Koroibete
Con – O’Connor
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand),
Assistant referee 2: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mounga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Damian McKenzie
15 Tom Banks, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Jordan Petaia, 23 Reece Hodge