New Zealand 30 Australia 14
New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup and made it two wins from two in this season’s Tri Nations by defeating Australia at Auckland’s Eden Park today.
The reigning Tri Nations champions clinched victory thanks to tries from Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, and Sitiveni Sivivatu while fly-half Dan Carter kicked 15 points.
Australia, who trailed 17-0 at half-time, hit back in the second half with converted tries from Digby Ioane and Rocky Elsom, but it was not enough to deny the All Blacks, who followed up their 40-7 victory over South Africa with another home triumph.
Played in perfect conditions, in front of a crowd of 54,500, New Zealand showed a clarity of execution in attack that the Australians were not able to emulate.
The constant support play of the New Zealanders in the first half made them potent in the Australia half while the visitors ran the ball often, but without the conviction achieved by the home team and the sizeable half-time lead proved a bridge too far for the visitors.
Typical of this was a burst by All Blacks centre Conrad Smith to set up a chance for half-back Piri Weepu to race down the touchline and link up with wing Hosea Gear.
The ruck formed and the ball was moved back to the right, where wing Sivivatu made ground to get close to the line.
Flanker Jerome Kaino kept the ball alive and it was centre Nonu who picked up the ball to drive through the legs to score in the seventh minute, with Carter, who had earlier opened the scoring with a penalty, adding the conversion to make it 10-0.
After Australia enjoyed a period of attack midway through the half, New Zealand grabbed their second try in the 26th minute when number eight Kieran Read and Richie McCaw worked the ball toward the line from midfield before hooker Mealamu got low and had the strength to put the ball on the line for the score.
Carter converted both those tries and seven minutes into the second half he landed a drop goal to take the All Blacks out to a 20-0 lead.
That looked to be the end for Australia but the Wallabies reduced the deficit in the 51st minute through Ioane’s try.
The ball was robbed from Brad Thorn after a succession of All Blacks drives and Australia scrum-half Will Genia burst down the blindside before passing to flying full-back Kurtley Beale, who in turn fed wing Ioane to score after beating full-back Mils Muliaina’s tackle attempt.
Quade Cooper, finally entrusted with the kicking after wing James O’Connor had missed three penalties in the first 42 minutes, added the conversion to give Australia a glimmer of hope.
However, from the restart the Wallabies failed to control the ball and All Blacks centre Smith was in in a flash to hare down the sideline and feed inside to Sivivatu who scored. Carter’s conversion took New Zealand out to a 27-7 lead.
Carter added a penalty goal before Wallabies captain Elsom claimed a late consolation try for the visitors, who were unable to follow up their victory over South Africa last month.