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'My naive belief was the Wallabies could contest through 60'

By Sam Smith
(Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

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A record score against the Wallabies in a Bledisloe, 57 points by the All Blacks, became a demoralising blow for Australian rugby which has made strides under new head coach Dave Rennie.


Under Rennie in four tests last year, the All Blacks won two with the Wallabies winning one and drawing the other.

Heading into the Bledisloe series after a 2-1 win over France in July, the Wallabies were drawn a short straw of sorts after border restrictions forced the first two tests to be held at Eden Park, where the All Blacks hold a formidable record.

A late three-try comeback in the first test masked over how the All Blacks had quickly raced to a 33-8 lead, with a Richie Mo’unga intercept being the catalyst for a New Zealand flurry of tries.

The second Bledisloe test remained close at halftime at 21-15, before a critical period just after the half saw Ardie Savea yellow-carded for a ruck infringement and the Australians unable to capitalise.

The Wallabies did not take three points to narrow the gap to 21-18 and then failed to take the lead when they were repelled by the All Blacks.

Despite being down to 14 men the All Blacks were able to strike next after an ill-advised decision by Darcy Swain to compete at the ruck left his side down a man on the blind. Aaron Smith sparked a break down the narrow corridor and put Codie Taylor away for a try.


A long range penalty goal from Damian McKenzie put the lead out to 31-15, past two converted tries, before Sevu Reece pounced on a long cutout pass from Matt To’omua for the second intercept try of the night.

It was the third intercept try of the last two weeks for the Wallabies. One fan wrote the decision-making was ‘questionable’ after a ‘naive’ belief that the Wallabies would compete for at least an hour.

Another considered it ‘probably’ the ‘worst ever performance at Eden Park’, as Australian fans lamented another night where critical moments all went against their side.

Before the second half blowout, the Wallabies had produced two tries, one through Andrew Kellaway after a cross-field kick with penalty advantage and another right on the stroke of halftime through livewire halfback Tate McDermott.

McDermott had been one of the Wallabies’ best performers, looking dangerous every time he went for a snipe to keep the All Blacks’ honest around the ruck. He was rated an 8 out of 10 by RugbyPass writer Nick Turnbull, who said he made a ‘statement’.

“A brilliant performance and was a threat to the All Blacks all night, be it at the base of the scrum, recycling the ball, and also as a support player. He will be marked up even closer moving forward as he made a statement tonight about the player he is going to be for Australia,” he wrote.

Kellaway was able to score his second try late in the game after the All Blacks had already reached 50, but a final strike after full time to David Havili put another exclamation point on proceedings.

The Wallabies will have to regroup for the third Bledisloe in Perth to avoid a clean sweep, and perhaps consider changing back to a younger midfield after Matt To’omua’s unimpressive night.


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