At Eden Park seldom do you get a second chance. The Wallabies once again have felt that painful lesson, as their 34-year hoodoo continued after being smashed 27-7 by the All Blacks on Sunday afternoon.
In the seconds after Bledisloe I, under-pressure All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he was looking forward to returning to New Zealand’s “spiritual home”.
Steve Hansen’s successor, who throughout the week came under fire from the Godfather of New Zealand Rugby, Sir Graham Henry, who said the All Blacks should have appointed new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie instead of Foster, will be gleefully looking to the heavens as an appreciation that the second Test was in Auckland.
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The All Blacks were expected to unleash their inner beast after an underwhelming start to life under Foster last week, and that’s indeed what happened.
The home side belted the Wallabies at the collision and were ferocious at the breakdown, particularly in the opening half-hour as they opened up a 10-0 lead.
Somehow the Wallabies managed to get on the board – something they failed to achieve a year earlier – when Ned Hanigan ran over the top of All Blacks prop Joe Moody and got the visitors on the front foot. Two phases later the Wallabies were over as Marika Koroibete scored.
But trans-Tasman Tests are about taking your chances and on a rare beautiful afternoon in Auckland it was the All Blacks that took them and the Wallabies that didn’t.
Having gone into half-time trailing just 10-7, the All Blacks did what they’ve done for the past 17 years of Bledisloe dominance.
They scored three times in 11 minutes as Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea and captain Sam Cane dived over for tries.
"I thought the All Blacks were very good in turnover," Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said.
"They capitalised on our mistakes. We pressured really well in the first half. We were down their end and had a lot of possession and probably a lot of territory … As New Zealand do they make us pay on turnovers and we weren’t able to scramble and get out of that."
The man causing the damage was Caleb Clarke - compared to the legendary Jonah Lomu throughout the week – who tore Australia to shreds, bumping away Wallaby defenders like cars on Australia's roads.
Clarke finished with 123 run metres in attack, bumping away 10 defenders on the way and making three linebreaks in the process.
It was a performance that announced him to the world, and it was his forceful impact that led to the Wallabies missing 40 tackles - more than double the amount they missed a week earlier.
The Wallabies had their chances. Two in fact after half-time when they desperately needed to hit back after the All Blacks opened up a 20-7 lead.
But Marika Koroibete was held up over the line in the 50th minute, somehow failing to score despite running over Mo’unga.
Minutes later it was hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa – playing his four Test and first since 2018 – that was penalised for double movement after propelling himself forward in the process of scoring.
The Wallabies weren't helped by the loss of midfilder Matt To'omua, who was forced off after 34 minutes with a groin injury.
His departure saw Jordan Petaia make his return after failing in his bid to be fit for Bledisloe I. Petaia was lethal with every touch, but To'omua's departure unsettled the Wallabies, particularly in defence.
Rennie's men didn't stop trying, but the execution and ball security that was there a week earlier was a long way off required in Bledisloe II.
James O'Connor's handling error in the 82nd minute as he attacked the All Blacks' line after yet another lineout in strong field position summed up the Wallabies' frustrating afternoon. It was the Wallabies' 20th turnover.
"We threatened a lot in the first half. Those two scores in the second would have been nice," lamented Hooper.
"We’ll go back home now, get a few days off and regroup. We’re building. A bit of a hit to the confidence there today but we’ll go again."
The 20-point win was the All Blacks' 20th straight win over the Wallabies at Eden Park.
So the All Blacks are back. They must win just one of the next two trans-Tasman Tests to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
All hope isn't lost for the Wallabies. Few expected the Bledisloe Cup to still be alive at this point. But their task just got a whole lot more difficult.
AT A GLANCE
All Blacks 27 (Smith, J.Barrett, Savea, Cane tries; Mo'unga 2 con; Mo'unga pen) bt Wallabies 7 (Koroibete try; O'Connor con)