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All Blacks thrash Australia 36-0 to retain Bledisloe Cup

All Blacks thrash Australia 36-0 to retain Bledisloe Cup
By Reuters

17/08/2019 at 11:35Updated 17/08/2019 at 12:14

The All Blacks silenced their critics with a physical and polished performance to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 17th season with a 36-0 victory over Australia that also quelled concerns the wheels might be coming off before the World Cup.

The All Blacks silenced their critics with a physical and polished performance to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 17th season with a 36-0 victory over Australia that also quelled concerns the wheels might be coming off before the World Cup.

Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga scored a try and slotted nine points with the boot at Eden Park before he went off with a shoulder injury that could cause some concerns for coach Steve Hansen's World Cup plans. Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge also crossed for the All Blacks, who were humbled 47-26 last week in Perth.

It was the eighth time the All Blacks have kept the Wallabies scoreless in tests. The Wallabies had high hopes they might be able to snatch back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 despite recent history being firmly against the visitors. Australia had not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001 -- a run of 22 losses -- and were winless in Bledisloe tests at Eden Park for the last 33 years.

They also invariably faced a backlash from the All Blacks smarting from a record loss.

The All Blacks were a completely different side from last week with a smart tactical kicking game and greater intensity but were rewarded with only a Mo'unga fourth-minute penalty.

The Wallabies were then able to get back into the game due to some poor discipline by the All Blacks as they conceded a succession of penalties.

Christian Lealiifano, however, missed two relatively easy shots at goal before the All Blacks blew the game open inside two minutes when Mo'unga pounced on a dropped ball by Reece Hodge and ran almost 60 metres to score the opening try.

Smith then scored the second try after a poor kick downfield allowed Barrett to counter-attack with Bridge, who exploited a mismatch through a gap and found the scrumhalf inside him to give the All Blacks a 17-0 lead.

The world champions could have been even better placed had hooker Dane Coles not been sin-binned in the 37th minute, with referee Jaco Peyper overturning a penalty advantage for the All Blacks while they were on attack.

The All Blacks however still managed to produce two massive scrums with just seven men, which created penalties and ultimately led to Williams smashing through two tacklers in the 45th minute to give his side a 24-0 lead.

The Wallabies always looked enterprising but were unable to breach the staunch rival defence and Reece and Bridge then crossed in the final 15 minutes to finish off superb individual matches that should earn both players selection for the World Cup squad.

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