Wallabies' Bledisloe hopes in tatters after ANZ defeat

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

At 7:59pm on Saturday night it seemed as if things couldn’t be much worse in Australian rugby.

By 9pm on Saturday night, the Wallabies had shown Australia another level of disappointment, on their way to  a 54-34 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney, leaving their hopes of a Bledisloe return in tatters.

A  27-14 second half made the final score more respectable but that did little to quell the queries that remain.

By half-time the All Blacks were already breaking records, with the biggest first-half score inflicted on the Wallabies and by the end of 50, it was the biggest score New Zealand had ever accumulated against Australia.

The Wallabies found some scoring potency in the second half, cutting a 49-point margin back to 27 in 15 minutes, but that will do little to appease Australian rugby fans already out for blood.

Things looked promising early on and Bernard Foley had the first crack at points in the fourth minute, converting a straightforward penalty, the first of two for the half, as Australia looked to bank points.

Rieko Ioane had a double by the 22nd minute. Photo: Getty ImagesIt wasn’t long before the optimism began to fade, and New Zealand began to pile on the pain.

New Zealand only needed a half chance to show off their slick skills, forwards included, their near no-look passes beating Wallabies defenders for Liam Squire to go over in the ninth minute.

Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty had first-half doubles, as the All Blacks racked up six five-pointers, and five conversions, in just 40 minutes.

Ioane slipped through the grasp of Israel Folau on the left edge to score the All Blacks’ second, another one the Wallabies were left to rue, and just two minutes later he was rubbing salt in the wound, with Crotty collecting an intercept and putting the winger over again.

Things were unraveling at breakneck speedl for the home side from that point, and Crotty became enemy number one, scoring the All Blacks’ third in seven minutes to open up an 18-point gap.

By the half-hour mark, the Wallabies had made 42 tackles and missed 17, according to Opta Sports, compared to the All Blacks 53 and nine missed, an all too familiar statistical reading for this Australian side.

Those numbers became 30 missed and 98 made by full-time, compared to New Zealand's 135 made and 22 missed, while Fox Sports had the tallyas at 95 made, 48 missed for Australia and 152 made to 40 missed for New Zealand.

From either provider, it made for ugly reading for Wallabies fans.

A fifth New Zealand try came through Sonny Bill Williams and then Crotty found himself over the line in sync with the half-time siren, putting the margin at 36 points.

Australia’s outside centre Samu Kerevi was pulled at half-time, as the Wallabies looked to shore up a defensive performance not unlike a generous sieve.

Tevita Kuridrani had a late consolation try. Photo: Getty ImagesIt did little for the Wallabies, though, with Damian McKenzie collecting a Rieko Ioane pass to score just three minutes into the second half, as the missed tackle count continued to pile up.

Ben Smith added another to make this the biggest New Zealand score against the Wallabies.

The Wallabies produced some late damage control, with Curtis Rona scoring on debut and Kuridrani finding the line just four minutes later to narrow the margin back to 34.

Kurtley Beale found his X-Factor in the 61st minute to score the third for the Wallabies, and Israel Folau had another seven minutes later.

In the end, it was the Wallabies’ second-highest score against New Zealand, but they still found themselves on the wrong end of a trans-Tasman encounter.

Both sides will travel to New Zealand on Sunday ahead of the second Bledisloe Test in Dunedin next Saturday.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read wasn't entirely satisfied post-match, pointing to complacency in the second half as a work on.

"We obviously came here to try and play our game and it really came off - all the passes stuck and a pretty awesome first half," he told FOX SPORTS.

"It showed the quality of the Aussie side in the second half to come back there and perhaps we just took the foot off the throat there.

"It's nice to play in when it's coming off like that. It probably camne about just with the simple things - we carried really hard."

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper was proud of the 'Australian spirit' his side showed to come back in the second 40, but admitted the first was not good enough.

RESULT

Australia 34

Tries: Rona, Kuridrani, Beale, Folau

Cons: Foley 3

Pens: Foley 2

New Zealand 54

Tries: Ioane 2, Crotty 2, Squire, Williams, McKenzie, Smith

Cons: Barrett 7