A rampant All Blacks side defeated Australia 54-34 in the first match of the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship 2017 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
A string of errors in both defence and attack put the Wallabies in a difficult position in the first half, with the clinical New Zealanders scoring six unanswered tries to take a 40-6 lead into the half-time break.
In what was a game of two halves, Australia finally clicked into gear in the second period, scoring four unanswered tries in the final 30 minutes to leave the final deficit at a more respectable looking 20 points.
Winger Curtis Rona crossed for a try on debut, while Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau all registered five-pointers for the home side. The All Blacks scored the first eight tries of the match before the Wallabies countered with a flurry of points.
The home side opened the scoring through the boot of Bernard Foley, taking a 3-0 lead after a physical start.
The New Zealand response was swift, countering from broken play to find some space out wide where Liam Squire was hovering along the touchline to grab the opening try.
Another penalty goal to Foley put the Wallabies back within a point but soon after the visitors were back over in the same corner when Rieko Ioane skipped outside Israel Folau.
A loose pass and a handling error by the Wallabies soon in the middle of the field gifted Ioane his second in the space of three minutes as the score jumped out to 19-6.
The tide of All Blacks points continued with Ryan Crotty charging over from a short ball from Beauden Barrett before Sonny Bill Williams forced his way over the line in the 34th minute. A second try to Crotty put the finishing touches on a dominant first half.
The visitors jumped quickly out of the blocks in the second half, with two more strikes from Damian McKenzie and Ben Smith to raise the half century.
It was then that the Wallabies mounted their response, starting when Curtis Rona crashed over next to the posts in the 51st minute.
Rona’s effort sparked the Australian attack and minutes later Tevita Kuridrani busted through a pair of would-be All Blacks defenders to register the Wallabies’ second of the night.
Kurtley Beale, who had been threatening with ball in hand all night and one of the best on ground for the Wallabies, scored a brilliant counter-attacking try after picking up a loose ball and bolting 50 metres to score.
Israel Folau was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce of the ball to cross soon after, but that’s where the second half blitz would end with the final score at 54-34 to the visitors.
The Australian side will cross the Tasman sea ahead of the return clash with New Zealand at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin next Saturday, August 26.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
5 mins: Bernard Foley pen, AUS 3-0 NZ
10 mins: Liam Squire try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 3-7 NZ
17 mins: Bernard Foley pen, AUS 6-7
18 mins: Rieko Ioane try, AUS 6-12
21 mins: Rieko Ioane try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-19 NZ
25 mins: Ryan Crotty try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-26 NZ
34 mins: Sonny Bill Williams try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-33 NZ
40 mins: Ryan Crotty try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-40 NZ
42 mins: Damian McKenzie try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-47 NZ
47 mins: Ben Smith try, Beauden Barrett con, AUS 6-54
52 mins: Curtis Rona try, Bernard Foley con, AUS 13-54
56 mins: Tevita Kuridrani try, Bernard Foley con AUS 20-54
61 mins: Kurtley Beale try, Bernard Foley con AUS 27-54
69 mins: Israel Folau try, Bernard Foley con AUS 34-54
New Zealand 54 (Rieko Ioane 2, Ryan Crotty 2, Liam Squire, Sonny Bill Williams, Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith tries; Beauden Barrett 7 cons).
Australia 34 (Curtis Rona, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau tries; Bernard Foley 4 cons; 2 pens).