The All Blacks won the Rugby Championship for the fourth time in a row with a 38-7 victory over Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia was no match for the All Blacks’ strength and efficiency.
The greatest rugby union attendance in Australia since the 2003 World Cup watched the game, which was played in front of approximately 84,000 spectators. New Zealand scored six tries through back-row Shannon Frizell, hooker Codie Taylor, wing Will Jordan, replacement back Caleb Clarke, wing Mark Telea, and center Rieko Ioane.
After scrum-half Aaron Smith’s deft tactical punt into the corner pinned Australia on their own try-line, scrum-half Tate McDermott was smashed by scrum-half Scott Barrett, allowing scrum-half Ryan Frizell to ground the loose ball in-goal for a gift of a try.
The Wallabies replied effectively; after a spirited burst from wing Mark Nawaqanitawase, they went through 11 phases in the All Blacks’ 22 before Valetini dove under the posts. Although there was a suspicion of a double movement, the try was awarded despite referee Wayne Barnes missing the initial grounding.
As soon as the third minute rolled around, New Zealand took the lead. After scrum-half Aaron Smith’s deft tactical kick into the corner pinned Australia on their own try-line, scrum-half Tate McDermott was smacked by Scott Barrett, allowing Frizell to ground the loose ball in-goal for a gift of a try.
The Wallabies came back strongly, as vivacious wing Mark Nawaqanitawase got them going in attack with a magnificent break, setting them through 11 phases in the All Blacks 22 before Valetini dove under the posts. Although there was a suspicion of a double movement, the try was awarded when the TMO reviewed the initial grounding by referee Wayne Barnes.
After a fairly uneventful first half, New Zealand blew open the scoreline two minutes into the second by slogging through 21 phases in contrast to Australia’s 22, puncturing at the Wallabies line, and then releasing the ball out wide for Jordan to sprint forward and dive to score, dealing a significant blow to the hosts.
Australia controlled possession and territory for the first 18 minutes of the second half but were unable to score as Ardie Savea delivered an incredible breakdown turnover very next to his own try line and two additional rolling mauls were stopped and rendered useless.
The All Blacks were able to retaliate after Tupou received a yellow card for a high tackle on Nepo Laulala, and they did so ruthlessly as Clarke lowered his head and drove over the line to score.
After Jordan had already scored one goal, Telea joined the fun four minutes later when he successfully offloaded the ball to the right side while appearing to be surrounded, allowing his opposite wing to dive in.
Following the restart, the All Blacks scored the first try of the Test as Scott Barrett launched an end-to-end attack involving numerous offloads that was completed by Ioane.
There were no more points scored, and these teams will play again next week in the second Bledisloe Cup match outside of the Rugby Championship. Eddie Jones will be hoping his team can put together an 80-minute effort in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in France in September.