All Blacks blow Wallabies away in second half to clinch Bledisloe win
The match threatened to pan out as a dire affair after a lacklustre first half saw a multitude of errors from both teams in an opening 40 minutes of rugby that was the antithesis of a free-flowing game.
Andrew Kellaway’s try on debut and Tom Banks’ “mother of all falcons” acted as the two standout moments in an opening stanza where Sevu Reece scored the only other try as he burrowed over the line from close range.
Auckland’s strong winds wreaked havoc for those scoring towards the western end, with young playmaker Noah Lolesio battling off the tee as he kicked into the gusts, landing just one kick from three not-overly-difficult attempts.
Lolesio’s kicking woes continued in the second half as he landed just one of his four attempts, bringing his match total to two from seven.
Richie Mo’unga, by comparison, looked to breeze through his goal-kicking duties in the first half – no pun intended – after nailing three penalties and a conversion to give the All Blacks a 16-8 lead at the break.
That eight-point buffer wasn’t as convincing as it seems at first glance, though, so one must assume All Blacks boss Ian Foster gave his troops a hefty rev-up at half-time as the Kiwis exploded into life just four minutes into second half.
A sweeping attacking move sparked by Mo’unga from deep inside their own half saw the New Zealanders go from coast-to-coast as the ball shifted through a multitude of hands and eventually ended with Reece crashing over for a brace of tries.
It wasn’t to be, though, as what would have been a contender for try of the season was scratched out due to a forward pass by newly-minuted centurion Aaron Smith to Brodie Retallick.
Mo’unga took matters into his own hands just a matter of minutes later when he picked off Hunter Paisami’s cut-out ball to scamper 70-odd metres and dot down underneath the posts.
That indicated the All Blacks were there to ramp things up in the second half, and that they did, as both Daivd Havili and Damian McKenzie crossed the chalk following sustained periods of pressure on the Australian defence.
Three consolation tries shared by Banks and Jordan Uelese in the final 10 minutes made the scoreline more respectable, but the damage had already been done as the All Blacks romped to a comfortable winning margin to get one hand on the Bledisloe Cup.
The result doubles as a worthy victory for Smith, who was given a standing ovation in celebration of his 100th test as he left the field midway through the second half.
The All Blacks will have the chance to lock away the coveted silverware for another year when they square off against the Wallabies at the same venue next weekend.
Wallabies 25 (Tries to Andrew Kellaway, Tom Banks (2) and Jordan Uelese; conversion and penalty to Noah Lolesio)
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