All Blacks Trounce Wallabies In Bledisloe Clean Sweep
In front of 46,143 fans, the All Blacks made it three in a row in the 2018 Bledisloe Cup, downing a spirited Australian side 37-20 in Yokohama on Saturday.
The trans-Tasman rivals clashed in just the second Bledisloe Cup match played on Japanese soil - the first being in 2009 when the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 32-19 in Tokyo.
Saturday’s venue was the 72,327-capacity Nissan Stadium where next year’s Rugby World Cup final will be hosted. With the Bledisloe silverware safely stowed away in the All Blacks’ cabinet for a 16th straight year, little was at stake bar both teams eagerness to start their respective Spring Tours on a winning note.
The All Blacks put on a clinical display in both defense and attack taking their opportunities against an Australian side that struggled to hold onto passes, knocking on 11 times.
With that much coughed-up ball against a team like New Zealand it was always going to be difficult getting ahead on the scoreboard.
Australian Coach Michael Cheika rued his team’s failure to turn pressure into points, “There were too many turnovers in key moments and actually too many turnovers in general.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the champions though as Australia came out firing at the start of both halves. Strong defense coupled with the Wallabies’ inability to take the full points on offer ensured the New Zealanders always stayed out in front. Another worrying sign for Michael Cheika’s men was their creaky scrum as the All Blacks’ forward pack had their counter-parts back pedaling on several occasions.
All Blacks’ Coach Steve Hansen said of the game, “It was important that we started the tour with a good performance and I think we did that today.”
Captain Kieran Reid echoed his coach’s comment, “We wanted to make sure we were in control of the game and for the large part of the game we did that. We certainly started the game a lot better than what we’ve probably done in our last few test matches. I guess once you’ve got your nose in front on the scoreboard, it helps and you control the game and it was a good start for us.”
In the opening stanza it was the Wallabies who started the half with the most intent, with fullback Dane Haylett-Petty almost going over in the corner after an initial break by Israel Folau. The TMO however spotted that Haylett-Petty knocked the ball on in the tackle, allowing the All Blacks to clear.
The next 10 minutes had the Kiwis battering the Australian defensive line and they were rewarded when a neat cut-out pass from center Sonny Bill Williams put Liam Squire on the outside of his defender and through the gap for the first try of the match. It was a nice touch for the burly center playing his 50th test for the All Blacks.
Hansen said of Williams, “His offloads are legendary so they were good. His overall performance; He hasn’t played much this year so some things he was forcing and probably not going as well as he would like and other things are going okay. We have just got to be patient with him and wait for him to turn into a quality player that he is. If you play 50 test matches for the All Blacks, you’re reasonably handy.”
Over the next quarter Kurtley Beale and Beauden Barrett traded penalties before no. 8 Read peeled off the back of an All Black attacking scrum and dived over taking NZ out to a 17-3 lead. It had been a patient build-up, probing an Australian defense that initially held out wave after wave of attack.
The All Blacks have a knack for scoring just before half time and again soon after it, but this time the Wallabies turned the tables on the World Champions.
Australia reduced the deficit with a converted try just before the half-time hooter, after several strong runs by the forwards up the middle set up winger Sefa Naivalu in the corner.
The second half saw the Wallabies burst out of the changing sheds and pin the All Blacks close to their tryline. Lock Rob Simmons came close but was held up over the whitewash by desperate defending. Foley closed the gap to four with a penalty right out in front of the posts however before a Barrett penalty restored his side’s lead to seven.
Then in the 58th minute star winger Rieko Ioane was unleashed down the left flank, breaking two tacklers before offloading to a waiting Barrett who raced away for his 6th try of the series. With his conversion the All Blacks were out to 27-13 lead and starting to take control of territory and possession.
With 14 minutes to play Australia was reduced to 14 players when replacement hooker Tolu Latu was shown yellow for a shove on Codie Taylor’s face that Hansen described as “a lot about nothing”. One minute later, Australia gifted the ball to Ben Smith and he sprinted 40m to score in the corner. With that the game was over as a contest.
Despite being a man down though Australia struck back. Folau on the angle burst through some weak mid-field defense and touched down under the posts.
It was the All Blacks who had the last say though as man-of-the-match Ioane crossed in the 80th minute to seal the victory.
Wallaby captain Michael Hooper said, ”37 points stings us a bit. We talked about it yesterday about defending better for longer and attacking better for longer and we probably didn’t do that around the 65-70 minute mark.”
Next Saturday the All Blacks take on Japan at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium while the Australians head to Europe where they will face Wales in a fortnight’s time.
Reid had nothing but praises for the Japanese reception and said that his team has really embraced the culture. He also added, “In terms of information we’ll get for next year, it was awesome to see the crowd that turned up tonight. But really we’ve had an awesome week in Japan. It’s been fantastic.
The hotel we stayed at and the training facilities have been really top-notch and it’s really good for us to get used to that. We’ll be using those same facilities in a year’s time and so I’m really looking forward to coming back to the welcoming we’ve had this week.”
- Todd Phillips: Oct 27th 2018