Wallabies walloped: New Zealand crush Australia 42-8 to open Rugby Championship with a bang
World champions relentless in Bledisloe Cup opener
World champions New Zealand humiliated Australia 42-8 on Saturday to open the Rugby Championship and extend the All Blacks’ recent dominance over their Bledisloe Cup rival.
New Zealand scored six tries as they dismantled the Wallabies, who lost centres Matt Giteau, Rob Horne and Matt Toomua through injury – all inside the first half.
Man of the match Beauden Barrett scored a try, set up two others and kicked 12 points to lead New Zealand to a comfortable victory in their first meeting against Australia since the Rugby World Cup final last year.
Nick Phipps scored a late try for the Wallabies in a rare highlight on an otherwise humbling evening at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, which saw the Wallabies suffer their largest losing margin against New Zealand at home.
“We really wanted to focus on our attitude and preparation,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. “Whilst it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t too bad, was it? So I am very proud with the way the boys arrived for the kick-off and mentally we were right on the button and, when you’re like that and you’ve got a bit of talent, you can do things.”
It was a night the Wallabies will want to quickly forget as they lost Giteau early to an ankle injury, then his replacement Toomua to a head knock, before Toomua’s replacement Horne also left the field with what appeared a serious arm injury just before half-time.
The injuries couldn’t obscure a particularly poor performance by the Wallabies – who had recalled several overseas-based stars for the Rugby Championship – as they gifted away possession to the All Blacks regularly, kicked poorly and missed several tackles on defence.
“I thought we defended very poorly,” said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. “Defence is attitude, so there’s no rustiness. Let’s get that one out of the way straight away. When players run, you’ve got to tackle.”
The Wallabies gave up a soft try for New Zealand’s Ryan Crotty in just the sixth minute. Crotty beat attempted tackles by Dane Haylett-Petty, Giteau and a desperate effort by Will Genia to score. Barrett converted the try for a 7-3 lead.
The world champions then added another two penalties, before Barrett raced through an opening in the Wallabies’ wide defence to score another easy try. The fly half kicked the conversion as the All Blacks took a 20-3 lead after 26 minutes.
The contest was effectively over after half-an-hour as a clearing kick was charged down by Jerome Kaino and the All Blank flanker chased after and gathered the ball before diving over for New Zealand’s third try and a 25-3 lead. The rout continued with winger Waisake Naholo scoring just before half-time to give the All Blacks a 32-3 lead.
New Zealand picked up where they left off in the second period when Dane Coles reached over, following an earlier dropped ball by Tevita Kuridrani. Almost straight from the restart, New Zealand attacked again with Barrett playing in Julian Savea who scored acrobatically in the corner as the score reached 42-3.
A yellow card to All Black No 8 Kieran Read late in the game gave the Wallabies a brief period of attack and substitute Phipps found space out wide to score.
“I know the scoreboard was big but it was a tough game and a couple of things you have to look at: a lot of the Australian boys haven’t played for a long time and that makes it difficult and some nights everything goes your way and it doesn’t for the opposition,” Hansen said.