New Zealand overcome Australia in Bledisloe Cup for record 18th straight test triumph
Julian Savea scores two tries as Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, TJ Perenara and Dane Coles also cross to seal 37-10 victory in Auckland
World champions New Zealand were challenged for 50 minutes but still ran in six tries to beat Australia 37-10 in Auckland on Saturday to become the first top-tier nation to win 18 consecutive test matches.
Less than a year after becoming the first nation to win back-to-back World Cups and with a much-changed line-up, Steve Hansen’s side bolstered their claim to being the greatest ever rugby team.
Julian Savea scored two tries as Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, TJ Perenara and Dane Coles also crossed to help the current All Blacks better the record held by the 2013-2014 and 1965-1969 vintages, as well as the 1997-1998 Springboks.
New Zealand’s last defeat was at the hands of the Wallabies in Sydney last year, but Australia breaking their 30-year Eden Park hoodoo was always going to be a tall order, even if a try from Rory Arnold was scant consolation for a spirited display.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 22, 2016
The All Blacks were already assured of retaining the Bledisloe Cup after emphatic victories over Australia in Sydney and Wellington in August and extended their winning streak on home soil to 45 tests.
They took only six minutes to score their first try as fullback Ben Smith slipping his marker, centre Reece Hodge, and sending winger Dagg scampering to the line.
Beauden Barrett missed the extra points, but four minutes later centre Lienert-Brown was running in the second try after Australia winger Henry Speight’s attempted intercept left a huge hole in the defensive line.
The Wallabies then enjoyed a good deal of territory but were unable to turn it into points until lock Arnold reached over the line with a second effort in the 29th minute.
All Blacks skipper Kieran Read was penalised for a shove just after the score, but Hodge was unable to convert the penalty attempt from the halfway line to even up the scores.
New Zealand extended their advantage six minutes before the break when Perenara charged down Hodge’s clearance kick and re-gathered to give the All Blacks a 15-7 lead at half-time.
Bernard Foley soon cut that lead to five points with a penalty and thought he had sent Speight in for a try to level up the scores, only for referee Nigel Owens to call back play because Dane Haylett-Petty had impeded Savea.
Savea’s name was the next on the scoresheet in the 54th minute as New Zealand exploited turnover ball inside their own half to set the hulking winger on his way to his 44th try in 49 tests.
The 45th came 12 minutes from time, again from turnover ball, and with a 32-10 lead, any nerves the home side were experiencing had dissipated and Savea sent Coles over for the sixth try of the night after 74 minutes.
The All Blacks now head abroad to face Ireland in Chicago and Dublin as well as Italy and France, looking to inch towards the overall test record held by Cyprus.
The Cypriots racked up 24 straight wins by beating the likes of Austria, Bulgaria and Luxembourg before their streak was snapped by Latvia in November 2014.