All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett became the first ever New Zealand player to score four tries against Australia as the ABs defeated the Wallabies 40-12 at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday and retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th straight year.
Here is how the game unfolded:
5 mins: The Wallabies lineout woes continue as Australia lose an early throw in.
9mins: Some good Wallabies possession with some strong runs from Lukhan Tui and Adam Coleman. But a poor kick from Kurtley Beale goes out on the full. Great attacking opportunity lost.
12mins: Ben Smith takes a high kick from Aaron Smith and a half break from Jordie Barrett is completed with the simplest run in from his brother Beauden. BB converts his own try. All Blacks 7-0.
14mins: Wallabies deep on attack. Appalling decision from Wayne Barnes. Regulation clean out from the Wallabies is penalized, something the All Blacks do 1000 times a game. Absurd refereeing and All Blacks back in possession.
18 mins: Poor pass from Jack Goodhue and Wallabies have a chance but Barnes blows a penalty for the Wallabies.
19 mins: Barnes again penalizes Wallabies in possession for tacking beyond the ruck.
24 mins: Superb play from the Wallabies – break from Beale who finds Marika Koroibete who finds Beale again. But Aaron Smith intercepts a metre out.
27 mins: Wallabies backing their scrum five metres out. Repeated penalties against the All Blacks but no card from Barnes. But from the next scrum Beale runs a great decoy and Genia darts over himself. Bernard Foley converts. 7-7.
34 minutes: Sustained attack from the All Blacks but superb defence from the Wallabies repels the advances and then David Pocock wins a turnover.
38 minutes: Classic All Blacks. Wallabies deep in attack but Beale spills it. The All Blacks counter-attack rather than kick. They swing it wide where Codie Taylor and Ben Smith combine to take it well down field. Ben Smith is pulled down inches short but Aaron Smith finds Beauden Barrett who dives over. He converts his own try. All Blacks 14-7
40 minutes: Half-time. Great 40 minutes for Australia but the Wallabies are clearly exhausted. All Blacks could run away with it in the second-half.
44 mins: Almost just to prove a point the All Blacks keep it tight and batter away at the Wallabies pack close to the line. Some big defence from Adam Coleman but the Abs keep battering and Joe Moody goes over. A big win psychologically for NZ. All Blacks lead 21-7.
47 mins: Great break from Ngami Laumape. Superb pop pass from Brodie Retallick to Liam Squire who slices through the Wallabies defence to score under the posts. Looking like a cricket score now. All Blacks 28-7.
51 mins: Beale again spills it and Goodhue feeds Waisake Naholo who breaks and then feeds Jordie Barrett who races towards the line, but great cover defence from Foley saves the try.
54 mins: Terrible defence from the All Blacks. Aaron Smith misses Foley blind from a scrum and the fly-half breaks down field before feeding Reece Hodge to run-in. Foley misses conversion. All Blacks 28-12.
61 mins: Ball on the halfway line and not much happening but Beauden Barrett just turns on the jet shoes and races 50 metres to score under the posts. His third of the night which he converts. All Blacks 35-12.
68 mins: Beauden Barrett is denied his fourth by a knock on from Ardie Savea but two minutes later he gets it anyway. A turnover from Retallick in the ABs 22, they go wide straight away and replacement Damian McKenzie sprints away. He finds Ben Smith who finds Beauden Barrett who dives in the corner. He becomes the first ever All Black to score four tries against the Wallabies. Just to show he’s human he misses the penalty. All Blacks lead 40-12.
78 mins: A late Naholo try is disallowed for a marginal forward pass.
80 mins: The Wallabies attack but Jack Maddocks is bundled into touch. Full time. All Blacks win 40-12 and retain the Bledisloe Cup.
After a fairly predictable opening round of the Rugby Championship, with the All Blacks blowing away the Wallabies in the second half in Sydney and the Springboks proving too good for the Pumas in Durban, we name our team of the round with a few old favourites and some new stars.
A classy performance from the custodian, brilliant break beating Lukhan Tui to create the first try late in first half, and enormous attacking presence when shifted to right wing.
Maybe not at his best in Super Rugby but repaid the faith of Steve Hansen with a superb performance. One on one strip on Marika Koroibete set up one try and he scored two of his own late on. Game high 175 metres from 14 runs.
Finally given his chance after another superb Super Rugby campaign. Led in metres carried (142) and team tackles (11 no misses). Finished beautiful long-range try and some strong defence.
Came off the bench for Ryan Crotty in the 12th minute but still the best No12 on show, slotted in neatly in the unfamiliar position with some excellent link play and tough defence.
Impeccable finishing, and showed great awareness with some important tackles. Growing in confidence every game and notched up another two tries. Just edges wing partner Makazole Mapimpi.
Write him off at your peril. Slow start but grew into the game, great individual skill to toe the ball ahead three times and shield the ball from Will Genia to score.
Superb performance from the livewire scrumhalf who is at the heart of most good things the Boks do. Three try assists plus scored his own five-pointer in the second half.
First test of the year but you wouldn’t have known it. Carried well with seven runs for 21 metres, defended well, three lineout wins and a good offload for team’s all-important first try.
Wallabies star David Pocock praised for classy act in loss to All Blacks - https://t.co/sJy2UPZiIu— nzherald (@nzherald) August 19, 2018
Wallabies best. Twenty-one tackles and pounced on a ball at the back of the ruck, leading to a break. Made two breakdown steals and even earned plaudits for checking in injured Ryan Crotty.
Impressive in a beaten side. Following on his strong Super Rugby form, made 36 metres from five runs with one tackle bust and also crossed for a first half try.
Returning from nine months out of Test rugby but you would never have known it with a match high 13 runs for 72 metres and six tackle busts. Strong at the lineout, immediately made presence felt.
Breathtaking. One month longer out of Test rugby than Etzebeth but man of the match in Sydney. Won opening penalty, plenty of lineout steals and even a try, after selling Bernard Foley a dummy.
Won an early penalty against Tom Robertson that set the tone for a dismantling of the Wallabies scrum, solid in defence making seven tackles without a miss.
Death, taxes, and Malcolm Marx turnovers: some of life's absolute certainties.— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) August 18, 2018
The @Springboks hooker has two to his name, and counting...
✍️ LIVE BLOG: https://t.co/wVYmjsmtVQ #RSAvARG #TheRugbyChampionship pic.twitter.com/EDx0b5x6CU
Some wayward lineout throws but a powerful performance from the Bok No2 as usual, seven runs for 34 metres, three tackle busts, one off-load and one line break assist.
Solid at the set piece and worked hard in the loose with 10 runs for 30 metres, two offloads and a tackle bust. Strong presence at the breakdown with some powerful cleanouts.
Enough is enough. Time to end the one-sided farce that is the Bledisloe Cup.
Australia simply cannot match the world No1 New Zealand, not now, not in the foreseeable future, and to draw out this one sided thrash-a-thon just drags Australian rugby further and further into the mud.
Surely even the Kiwis are getting bored of this annual mismatch.
The Bledisloe Cup has always been dominated by New Zealand but over the last decade and a half that dominance has become farcical.
Since 1932 the Bledisoe has been “contested” 58 times with New Zealand winning on 46 occasions and Australia just 12.
The longest winning streak for Australia has been just five years, from 1998 to 2002, a period which featured many of the greatest players in Wallabies history: John Eales, Tim Horan, George Gregan, Toutai Kefu, Joe Roff, Jason Little, Stirling Mortlock, Stephen Larkham, David Wilson and Chris Latham.
An era during which Australia also claimed their second Rugby World Cup crown.
In contrast New Zealand’s current 16-year run only just eclipses their 13-year streak which stretched over 27 years from 1951-78.
The Bledisloe is already the most one-sided two-team sporting contest in the world and is made far worse by the fact that it is played across three Tests a year.
For Wallabies fans that’s three times the misery. For All Blacks fans three times the chance to gloat.
But even the increasingly strident New Zealand supporters are becoming more and more restrained as the Bledisloe increases in embarrassment levels year after year.
Indeed these days the All Blacks are trying to talk their opponents up in the hope of some kind of a contest, with coach Steve Hansen comically declaring the Wallabies as favourites for Bledisloe 1 this year.
Hansen may be a great coach but he is clearly not a good tipster as the Wallabies fell to a 38-13 shellacking, following on from their 42-8 and 54-34 drubbings in the corresponding fixture in the previous two years.
It is not that the Wallabies are that bad – they currently sit fifth on the World Rugby rankings – it is that the All Blacks are that good.
It’s hard to blame coach Michael Cheika, captain Michael Hooper or even Rugby Australia for this Bledisloe mess.
They are doing as well as they can.
The preparation for this year’s Bledisloe was meticulous with Cheika and his support staff turning over every stone in an effort to tame the All Blacks machine.
They even tried a well-attended inter-squad trial match to try and get the Wallabies match ready, which worked in the first half at least.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and her team also did a superb effort selling the game, even adding a double-header of the Black Ferns against the Wallaroos – to swell the crowd to an impressive 66,318.
Wonder how Jack Goodhue made this linebreak from kick restart?— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) August 19, 2018
A seriously clever blocking line from All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor.
Tatafu Polota-Nau pushes his aside, Goodhue runs straight through.
Jaco Peyper misses it completely #BledisloeCup pic.twitter.com/lUUGczcNBi
If you are looking for someone to blame – blame Australian Rules and to a lesser extent rugby league.
Whereas in New Zealand – and Tonga, Samoa and even Fiji – most young boys grow up dreaming of becoming an All Black, in Australia they dream of playing for Collingwood or West Coast in the AFL.
Rugby has a very small talent pool to draw on with the game played only in wealthy private schools and a few public schools, with even the best of those players skimmed off the top by rugby league talent scouts who have 16 professional team rosters to fill where rugby has just four.
Australia simply cannot compete with New Zealand and the gap is only growing.
To be termed a sporting contest an event has to be just that – a contest.
The Bledisloe stopped being that over a decade ago and to continue it further is just like watching Roger Federer destroy a qualifier over and over again in the opening rounds of Wimbledon.
You can admire Fed’s majestic stroke play but even that soon loses appeal.
So what would it be replaced with?
Easy – add Japan and a Pacific Islands Lions side to the Rugby Championship and run a southern hemisphere “six nations”.
Each side plays each other side once – and if you must the Bledisloe Cup can be continued as part of that as a one-off match each year, like the Calcutta Cup in the Six Nations.
Making it a one-off also gives the chance of an upset which is nearly impossible in a three-match series.
The new “Southern Six Nations” would develop rugby in Japan and the Pacific Islands as well as giving more nations around the world a chance to see the great All Blacks live.
This would make five Test matches in the August-October window for the All Blacks, rather than six, and if they must add another then make it against the Springboks – a genuine opponent from another nation where rugby is king.
It would also be good news for Australian rugby.
Freed from the annual slaughter (and pressure) of the Bledisloe, the Wallabies could start to rebuild confidence and the crowds may start to return to watch a winning team.