'We're hurting a lot': Mo'unga masterclass sees All Blacks smash Wallabies by record margin to seal Bledisloe Cup

International
by Christy Doran

How quickly the tables have turned.

It was just three weeks ago the Wallabies produced their best result against the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001 by leaving Wellington with a draw. The result was hoped to signal a new dawn 

Three weeks later, the All Blacks have both hands on the Bledisloe Cup for the 18th consecutive year, after smashing the Wallabies by a record 43-5 margin on a wet Sydney evening at the Olympic Stadium to take an unassailable 2-0 lead into the fourth and final trans-Tasman Test of the year in Brisbane next weekend.

The Wallabies might have a new coach in Dave Rennie, but the result has remained black.

"We're hurting a lot from that," Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said in the immediate aftermath.

"We really want(ed) to fly into these two weeks; it's a hit to the confidence now. We've got to look back at sticking to our game plan, we get out on the field and we change direction."

After being forced to turn to the next generation of playmakers following the injuries to veteran pair James O’Connor and Matt To’omua, the Wallabies’ debutant pairing of Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone felt the wrath of the All Blacks.

Where they kicked away what little possession they had in the first-half, the All Blacks ate up the Wallabies’ offerings for dinner.

No-one feasted more on the Wallabies’ mistakes more than All Blacks playmaker Richie Mo’unga, who scored a first-half double to set-up the victory.

The All Blacks’ four-try first-half rout brought back memories of 2017 at the same venue, when they lead the Wallabies 40-6 at half time, and had the 2020 All Blacks not bombed another three tries they could well have got to that margin again.

Rennie’s men were gallant in the second-half.

They scored almost immediately after the main break, with Lolesio storming onto a lovely ball from Nic White to crash over after Jordan Petaia broke away downfield from a lovely set-piece play one phase earlier.

But those moments of brilliance were as rare as Wallabies victories in recent years.

Right from the outset the Wallabies were on the back foot, as winger Filipo Daugunu was yellow carded for taking Caleb Clarke in the air in just the second minute.

Moments later, the All Blacks were celebrating their first of four first-half tries as prop Karl Tu'inukuafe scored. Mo'unga's conversion gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.

That early lead could have been a lot bigger had the All Blacks taken their chances, as Dane Coles knocked on over the line from a Mo'unga cross-field kick and then Clarke was banged into touch from a phenomenal last-ditched effort from Michael Hooper and Marika Koroibete.

Not even a yellow card to winger Jordie Barrett for an elbow to the head of Dane Haylett-Petty whilst in possession of the ball could slow the All Blacks.

The Wallabies didn't help themselves. Playmakers Lolesio and Simone kicked possession away relentlessly, while the Wallabies' outside backs struggled to hold onto the ball on the wet night.

Mo'unga then took charge, playing the short side from the set-piece and schooling hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa for pace in the 20th minute.

Six minutes later he was in again as he stormed onto a Beauden Barrett chip kick in his own half and then had the pace and know-how to find the line.

Coles then finished the first-half procession by getting on the back of a rolling maul to blow out the margin to 26-0.

The Wallabies didn’t lack effort in the second half, but they failed to heed the lessons of being accurate and were made to pay in the second half.

Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett capping a dark night for the Wallabies by scoring late tries to blow the margin out.

In his post match interview Hooper bluntly said the Wallabies just weren't good enough.

"I just don't think that we were accurate," he said.

"The times that we did make dents down the side we lost the ball so, again, giving away possession too easy, and again we didn't kick smart and credit to the All Blacks they were very good around their kicks, their kick-chase and won that battle."

AT A GLANCE

WALLABIES 5 (Lolesio try) defeated by ALL BLACKS 43 (Mo'unga 2, Tu'inukuafe, Coles, Ioane, J Barrett tries; Mo'unga 5 con; 1 pen)