Pressure from the All Blacks, applied with relentless intent, overcame an Australian effort bordering on desperation, undisciplined even, in the 40-14 victory at the Lipovitan D Rugby Championship at Eden Park.
The win left South Africa with the challenge of not only beating Argentina but also closing a 39 point difference to deny the All Blacks the Rugby Championship title.
The win extended New Zealand’s record to 23 consecutive wins against Australia since 1986.
The outstanding performances of front rowers Tyrell Lomax and Ethan de Groot highlighted the application of the All Blacks package with locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, who along with huge contributions marked their world-record-breaking 63rd Test.
New Zealand were better in the meltdown with 15 turnovers to six while Australia were forced by the All Blacks to make 127 tackles to 112 who conceded just 12 penalties to 16 from Australia.
Jordie Barrett pleaded for more attention on the second five-eighths going forward with a strong performance that kept the Australian defense signed.
Wing Will Jordan was elusive, especially in the first half, but hobbled off the field after 67 minutes with a leg injury.
Wing Caleb Clarke was adept at handling high balls kicked into his area, making the tactic redundant but still used.
Two early yellow cards to suspend Jed Holloway and hooker David Porecki were the last thing Australia needed to vent their frustration at the manner of the Melbourne Test loss 10 days ago.
17-0 at the turn, the All Blacks batted first in the second half when Whitelock hit under the post. Hooker Codie Taylor was able to score in an All Blacks lineout maul, and when he was replaced by Samisoni Taukei’aho, he marked his revival with another driving maul, with four from the backline teaming up to take the ball over the line to drive.
Australia had the satisfaction of two tries towards the end. The first, which arose from a partial attack of a clearing kick, giving back-up hooker Fainga’a Folau a chance to score. And after full-time, Jordan Petaia came by after an Australian corner penalty saw the game switch to midfield, where the chance came after another run from the All Blacks’ hot defender.
New Zealand weren’t as efficient as they could have wished in the first quarter, their inability to take risks costing them, while at the same time giving Australia an opportunity to face their own challenges. That forced the All Blacks to pick up 25 percent more tackles in the quarter.
But once they could string their moves together, they played at a pace Australia couldn’t match. It was that man, Jordan, who gave the All Blacks a stunning try almost from the start after Richie Mo’ounga opened the scoring with a penalty goal after the first five eights.
Excellent setup by Jordan in a lineout play and assist from flanker Dalton Papali’i, the ball popped up in the line with full-back Beauden Barrett feeding Jordan who rounded his marker with an excellent boost of speed to run in the try.
The Australians injured and after the All Blacks stepped towards the goal line, they mounted a thrilling driving maul which was knocked down by Porecki, resulting in a penalty try and 10 minutes off the field for the offender.
It was a desperate first half for the Wallabies. They had denied an attempt when winger Marika Koroibete stepped to the touchline before diving to the line while on another occasion the ball was held up.
They had a lot of time in the All Blacks’ 22-yard box, and although they received penalties, rather than opting for a shot on target, they attempted tap penalties or corner shots.
Neither tactic yielded rewards as the Sterling home defense withstood them.
Some of the defenses were startling in their severity. The Australians attempted to knock down the ramparts, but they proved solid and impenetrable, at least for the first half.
It seemed that whatever they attempted, whether bullocking runs or high kicks to the All Blacks rearguard, the home team was up to the task when it came down to it.
Scorers: New Zealand 40 (Will Jordan, Sam Whitelock, Codie Taylor, Samisoni Taukei’aho tries; Penalties; Richie Mo’unga 2 con, 2 pen) Australia 14 (Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Petaia tries; Bernard Foley with cheating; Reece Hodge with cheating). HT: 17-0