The Wallabies’ hopes of breaking a 13-year Bledisloe drought were swiftly destroyed last night, 42-8, by a rampant New Zealand team.
Wallabies David Pocock, Matt Giteau, Will Genia and Matt Toomua had shaved their heads as a gesture of solidarity with teammate Christian Lealiifano, who is battling leukemia. The All Blacks were without Richie McCaw, their retired captain, Dan Carter who retired at the World Cup and Sonny Bill Williams who suffered an ankle injury while competing at the Rio Olympics.
Despite speculation that the absence of the indomitable McCaw would improve the odds in the Wallabies’ favour, the Australians had no answer as the All Black attack carved through them from all areas.
Adding to the Wallabies’ woes, injuries forced Giteau, Toomua and Rob Horne to leave the field in the first half.
The game was all but over after the first 40 minutes, the Kiwis posting 32 points to the Wallabies’ three points. To the Wallabies’ credit, half Nick Phipps finally reached the All Blacks’ try-line in the second but it was simply not enough in the face of the All Blacks’ onslaught. Malakai Fekitoa, Beauden Barrett, Jerome Kaino, Waisake Naholo, Dane Coles and Julian Savea all crossed to deliver New Zealand a runaway victory.
Barrett, promoted to the starting line-up, had an excellent game, converting three goals and booting two penalties, playing a pivotal role in the reigning champions’ race to a daunting first-half lead. d Australia struggled to respond.
The second match in takes place in Wellington next week; the final match of the three-game championship will be played at Auckland’s Eden Park in October. It’s been 15 years since the Wallabies won on New Zealand turf, and yesterday’s result suggests series redemption in New Zealand is an unlikely prospect. – Patrick Staveley
Photo of the All-Blacks performing the Haka from the All Blacks Twitter feed.