All Blacks thrash shaky Wallabies
New coach McKenzie off to a losing start as world champs win Bledisloe opener
Agence France-Presse in Sydney
The All Blacks crushed Australia 47-29 in the opening Rugby Championship test in Sydney yesterday, condemning new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie to a losing start.
The World Cup champions scored six tries to two to hammer the Australians, who were playing under McKenzie for the first time since he took over from Robbie Deans last month.
South Africa were also in blistering form as they scored nine tries to emphatically open their Rugby Championship with a 73-13 win over Argentina in Soweto, avenging a surprise 16-16 draw between the teams in their last meeting a year ago with the biggest win in the southern hemisphere competition.
The All Blacks ruthlessly exploited the Wallabies' shaky defence and stormed home for a bonus-point victory and their 100th test win over Australia after leading 25-19 at half-time.
Winger Ben Smith became the first All Black to score a hat-trick of test tries in eight years with other tries to skipper Richie McCaw, Aaron Cruden and Conrad Smith. McCaw was back for his first test in almost nine months after a sabbatical.
Cruden, meanwhile, had a fine match, finishing with 20 points from his try, three conversions and three penalties.
"I am obviously very happy with the performance. It's not every day that you can come here and get 40-odd points. I thought both teams played good rugby," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.
"For Richie McCaw to get through 70 minutes after having his break and everyone doubting him just shows the character of the bloke once again, while Aaron Cruden showed that he's a true international player of world-class ability and he led the team very well."
It was the All Blacks' 15th win in their last 19 encounters against the Wallabies to maintain their dominance in the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.
The optimism of a new start under McKenzie quickly died out for the home side, with dynamic winger Israel Folau hardly seeing the ball and debut flyhalf Matt Toomua replaced by Quade Cooper on the hour.
"Every time you lose a game it's disappointing. We were level-pegging there for some time in the game, but you have to respect possession," McKenzie said.
"When we had possession at times we did some good things, we made a bunch of line breaks, but then we didn't treasure the ball enough."