A rampant New Zealand inflicted further pain on a fired-up Australia with a 29-9 victory to claim the Bledisloe Cup in Wellington on Saturday.
The Wallabies stayed in touch in the first half, with the All Blacks only 15-9, but were kept scoreless in the second half as the All Blacks added a further 14 points in the second-round Rugby Championship clash.
After thrashing the Wallabies 42-8 in Sydney a week ago, this victory enabled the All Blacks to lock the Bledisloe Cup away for another year, making the third Test in October a dead rubber.
The cup is billed as the symbol of trans-Tasman rivalry, but it has been all one-way traffic since 2002, when it was last held by Australia.
In two Tests this month the world champion All Blacks have scored 10 tries and conceded one.
But, unlike the first Test, when the All Blacks were in command from the start, they did not have it all their own way for the first 46 minutes of the niggly rematch.
“Perhaps we let it get to us a bit too much in that first half. there was a bit of niggle and that’s what you expect in a high-pressure game,” captain Kieran Read said.
Coach Steve Hansen said he was not surprised by the Australian’s attitude and he believed it would only help the All Blacks rebuilding after last year’s World Cup.
“It’s the type of game that will make this team grow even better, the experience, they’ve been through it now and know what it feels like.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said his side had problems with French referee Roman Poite, and he saw an improvement from last week.
“From an intent point of view, putting their bodies on the line for the match, the contest, I was more pleased with the performance in that regard and that’s something we’ve got to build on,” he said.
“We can’t wait until we’re down on one knee to bring it.”
Israel Dagg scored two tries for the All Blacks with Julian Savea and Sam Cane also dotting down while Beauden Barrett landed three conversions and a penalty.
The Wallabies points came from two Bernard Foley penalties and one by Reece Hodge.
For most of the game, the sublime flavour from a week ago was replaced by a scrappy, sour performance as the Wallabies, as expected, began with considerable intent.
Amid the feisty start they claimed two turnovers in the first four minutes, but for all their endeavour and vastly improved line speed they made little headway.
Instead, their improvement on attack gave way to a struggling set piece, losing their own ball at crucial times, and their defence also let them down.
Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett took turns at carving through the defensive wall to set up Dagg for the All Blacks’ two first half tries.
Their path forward was made easier by a one-man advantage as a result of the Wallabies’ decision to keep fly-half Quade Cooper away from the frontline.
Australia relied on the three first half penalties, with Hodge — who came on for his Test debut when Ashley Adam-Cooper left the field with concussion — landing a booming 55-metre effort.
There was considerable niggle in the first half which only settled down just before half-time when referee Roman Poite tired of issuing warnings and set Wallabies lock Adam Coleman to the sin-bin for a late charge on Ben Smith.
Dagg, who relished the move to the right wing, set up the first try in the second half when he beat Quade Cooper in the air for the All Blacks to swing the ball to the other side of the field, where Savea scored in the corner.
Cane bagged the All Blacks fourth try after Ben Smith sliced through the Wallabies backs with 19 minutes remaining.
Although the All Blacks did not score again they spent most of the time camped in Wallabies territory and missed three possible tries through handing errors. – Agence France-Presse