The Wallabies have endured a Halloween nightmare to hand the All Blacks the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year.
New Zealand piled on six tries to one, with five-eighth and man-of-the-match Richie Mo’unga bagging a brilliant double and a 23-point personal haul as the All Blacks seized an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-game series with a record-breaking 43-5 rout on Saturday night.
“We’re hurting a lot from that,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said. “It’s a hit to the confidence now.
“We’ve got to go back and look at sticking to our game plan.”
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie handed Test debuts to five-eighth Noah Lolesio and inside centre Irae Simone, marking the first time in 73 years that Australia had blooded a rookie 10-12 combination against the All Blacks.
But the daring move backfired, Mo’unga’s mastery schooling Lolesio as the 20-year-old’s forgettable first half helped the All Blacks bolt to a 26-0 lead at the break.
Defending at fullback, Lolesio struggled with his positional play as the All Blacks, armed with more than 60 per cent possession and territory, mounted attack after attack.
Lolesio’s kicking game was also poor. But the young playmaker was far from alone in having an off night.
Three-Test winger Filipo Daugunu crashed back to earth from the highs of his Wellington debut in the series-opening draw, a succession of handling errors and his early stint in the sin-bin also hurting the Wallabies.
Daugunu vowed pre-game to put a hit on his All Blacks opposite and Bledisloe II chief destroyer Claeb Clarke. But he got his timing badly wrong, leaving the Wallabies with 14 men in just the third minute after taking out his opposing winger in mid-air.
Short side try, followed by another! 43-5 now with a few minutes left. pic.twitter.com/53LlUwkHl6
— Mike Phillips (@Mike_Phi11ips) October 31, 2020
The All Blacks wasted no time making the Wallabies pay, prop Karl Tu’inukuafe crossing two minutes later for the first try of the night.
In an action-packed opening quarter of an hour, New Zealand winger Jordie Barrett was sent to the sin-bin for elbowing Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty before the TMO Angus Gardner denied the All Blacks two more tries in the space of four minutes.
First, hooker Dane Coles was deemed to have knocked the ball on over the line after showing great foot speed to reel in Mo’unga’s probing cross-field kick.
Then Marika Koroibete miraculously forced Clarke dead in goal with a brilliant, George Gregan-esque, trysaver.
But there was no let-up from the All Blacks and they inevitably claimed their second try when Mounga switched inside and beat Wallabies hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, then Nic White and Lolesio for pace to dive over in the corner.
Mo’unga was in again shortly after when he collected a lovely chip kick from Beauden Barrett and raced 70 metres to score.
Coles wasn’t denied for a second time when he cashed in on the All Blacks’ deadly driving maul on the half hour.
Congratulations! @AllBlacks winning the Bledisloe Cup 18th straight season, biggest win against Australia in 117 years with a 43-5 drubbing at ANZ Stadium, Sydney. And @AllBlacks lead the four-game series 2-0, last match 7th November at Brisbane. pic.twitter.com/EqarQhghQc
— Sumon McCullum (BAZ) (@BazMcCullum42NZ) October 31, 2020
A destructive solo run from fellow young gun Jordan Petaia led to Lolesio charging over for Australia’s only try of the game two minutes into the second half.
But further five-pointers to Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett completed the drubbing, the All Blacks’ winning margin the biggest over the Wallabies in 169 trans-Tasman Tests stretching back to 1903.
“They were very clinical,” Hooper said. “They played the conditions really well, jumped on a lot of loose ball.
“I just don’t think we were accurate.
“So again giving away possession too easily and then we didn’t kick smart.”