AUCKLAND (AFP) –
Impregnable New Zealand punished Australia 22-0 in the Test at Eden Park on Saturday — the first time in 50 years the Wallabies have been kept scoreless by the world champion All Blacks.
The one-sided result kept the Kiwis unbeaten after two matches in the Rugby Championship and saw them retain the Bledisloe Cup, contested between the two nations, for the 10th consecutive season.
Returning to the scene of their World Cup triumph 10 months ago, the All Blacks scored only one try with Dan Carter adding five penalties and a conversion.
But they dominated throughout, even though they were unable to completely remedy their erratic form from last week, when they beat the Wallabies 27-19 in Sydney, and again they had problems securing a clean lineout ball.
They monstered Australia in the scrums and controlled the breakdown, where Richie McCaw and Kieran Read showed far more aggression than Michael Hooper and Scott Higginbotham.
Behind the pack, fledgling scrum-half Aaron Smith fed a stream of front-foot ball to his outsides, where Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams kept Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes scrambling.
“To keep them out was pretty satisfying and that’s probably just as good as the 22 (points) really,” said captain McCaw who was not entirely happy with the performance.
“There’s a little sense that perhaps we blew some opportunities. We perhaps could have been in control of the game earlier than we were.”
It is the second time this year New Zealand achieved the rare feat of blanking the opposition — they beat Ireland 60-0 — and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was full of praise for the way the All Blacks played.
“That was an outstanding performance. They’re a side that’s playing with the confidence of being world champions and I don’t think there’s any side in the world that would have footed it with them tonight.”
The Wallabies, who chose an expansive game plan last week, opted for a more conservative forward drive approach for the return clash but apart from a brief period at the start of the game they rarely put the All Blacks under pressure.
In the first half, three Carter penalties were the only points for the All Blacks as tries went begging.
Israel Dagg was brought down just short of the line when a pass to an unmarked Hosea Gear outside would have perhaps been a better option, and Liam Messam crossed the line only to have the ball ripped out of his grasp.
Despite the 9-0 lead at the turn the All Blacks were always in control and the points flowed freely after the break.
With the wind behind him Carter landed a 53-metre penalty which was followed by a try to Dagg beside the posts.
Carter landed the conversion and immediately another penalty after the All Blacks swept back on attack when Barnes’ kick off went out on the full.
Eight minutes after the restart and the All Blacks had piled on 13 points and any hopes the Wallabies held of pulling off an upset were gone.
When Australia had a chance for easy points, a penalty 10 metres out and in front of the posts, they took a tap kick instead and the move ended with the All Blacks securing a turnover.
It was left to Carter to land one more penalty to end the scoring and extend the All Blacks’ unbeaten run at Eden Park to 30 Tests.