Tuesday 26 September 2017 / 10:19 AM

RECORDS TUMBLES AS ALL BLACKS THRASH WALLABIES

Via All Blacks Media

New Zealand’s 40-point first half effort set up a 54–34 win over Australia in their Bledisloe Cup Investec Rugby Championship Test in Sydney but a flimsy third quarter dulled the lustre of the dominance the All Blacks had established.

It was a record total, bettering the 51 posted at Eden Park in the 51-20 win in 2014 with the All Blacks scoring eight tries to Australia’s four.

The three Australian tries in a nine-minute burst between the 52nd and 61st minutes deflated the difference between the sides but will have Australian confidence higher than it might have been heading into the second Test in Dunedin next weekend.

Nothing Australia did in the first half could prevent the All Blacks scoring six tries to enjoy a 40-6 half-time advantage and it was only changes during the period when substitutes were brought on that the New Zealanders looked unsettled, even untidy as their execution waned.

But achieving their aim of returning to their attacking mindset, the All Blacks made a powerful statement for the remainder of the Championship although the looseness of the third quarter will leave plenty to be worked on in the weeks head.

However, it was the speed of the first half assault that floored Australia and it relieved the All Blacks of much of their frustration from the drawn British & Irish Lions series.

Dominating performances from fullback Damian McKenzie, wing Rieko Ioane and flanker Liam Squire lent substance to the win. While the defensive load was shared through the side in shutting Australia out during the first half especially.

Initially McKenzie was the spark who ignited the early scoring thrust, the first try coming when he tidied play in midfield and linked with centre Ryan Crotty on the right. He cut infield when there was no support outside. From the ruck the All Blacks moved the ball quickly with fast hands from lock Brodie Retallick, who was dynamic throughout, skipper and No.8 Kieran Read and Ioane putting Squire into space down the left flank where he out-paced the cover to score in the ninth minute.

McKenzie’s incision allowed him to get round the centre Samu Kerevi and allow Crotty to give right wing Ben Smith the chance to cut back infield. Eight phases were involved and Retallick seemed to be involved in six of them. It was when he threw a short pass to hooker Codie Taylor that the decisive ruck was created which saw Ioane run around fullback Israel Folau to score in the 17th minute.

Australia attempted their own move from a lineout but flanker Michael Hooper’s pass was ill-directed and it eluded Kurtley Beale’s grasp but not Crotty who secured the ball and forged ahead with Ioane on his left and the wing’s speed carried him in for his second, in the 20th minute.

Prop Joe Moody showed his skill with ball in hand in executing a midfield break any centre would have been proud of. Moving the ball right Ben Smith was able to set up another ruck and Barrett executed a double round with Retallick, who else, to feed Crotty over beside the posts.

Australian indiscipline resulted in two lineout set-ups from penalty kicks to the corner and from the second Sonny Bill Williams crossed moments after Barrett was downed just short of the line.

Another penalty just before half-time saw the All Blacks opt for a scrum from which Read detached to pass to Smith who then floated one of his special long passes across the backline which was taken by Crotty who was unchallenged to cross for his second and give New Zealand a stunning 40-6 lead at half-time.

Two changes, at centre and hooker, were made by Australia at half-time but it was only two minutes before another error, which saw Barrett rip the ball from Hooper in a standing tackle. Ioane took the pass from Barrett and stepped inside before linking with McKenzie racing down the flank to score his first Test try.

Ben Smith took New Zealand to a record score, passing the 51 scored in Auckland in 2014, in New Zealand’s 51-20 win at Eden Park, when he chimed into a move, which featured two strong runs by Squire, from the blindside with Aaron Smith presenting with an inside pass to open up more space in the 47th minute.

Relief came in the 52nd minute for Australia when from a five-metre scrum, new wing Curtis Rona burst in from the blindside to get over.

Some indecision in the rear from Ioane and McKenzie exposed the All Blacks in the 55th minute and Australia got replacement centre Tevita Kuridrani over in the midfield play.

More unsettling mistakes saw ball lost when attempting a wrap around move involving McKenzie and the ball dropped free for Beale to pick it up and race unhindered for 40m.

In the 69th minute, Folau was awarded a try after a TMO consultation but the All Blacks could feel he received the ball in an offside position. While a chargedown try to Barrett was ruled out due to a ‘simultaneous’ touchdown by Barrett and Foley.

Scorers: Australia 34 (Curtis Rona, Tevita Kuridani, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau tries; Bernard Foley 4 con, 2 pen) New Zealand 54 (Liam Squire, Rieko Ioane 2, Ryan Crotty 2, Sonny Bill Williams, Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith tries; Beauden Barrett 7 con). HT: 6-40

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