Israel Dagg scored two tries as the All Blacks beat Australia 29-9 in their Rugby Championship clash in Wellington on Saturday, which also ensured they retained the Bledisloe Cup for another year.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett also showcased his growing stature as the starting flyhalf with nine points from the boot and his all-round play drove his side around the field in a match that failed to reach the same heights as last week’s opener.
Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley slotted two penalties, while debutant Reece Hodge landed a monster penalty in the first half for the visitors, who rarely threatened on attack and lost their sixth successive match.
The All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman supremacy since 2003 and only had to draw in Wellington to ensure it stayed locked in New Zealand Rugby’s trophy cabinet for another season.
Steve Hansen’s side had hammered the Wallabies 42-8 last week in Sydney with a game of high pace and superb execution, and the Wallabies had promised they would perform better than they had at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.
The only thing they did do better, however, was slow the pace of the All Blacks’ game with negative tactics, while they also antagonised the home team with several off-the-ball incidents.
The tactics worked to an extent, the All Blacks only led 15-9 at halftime courtesy of Dagg’s tries and a conversion and penalty to Barrett, while Foley and Hodge kicked penalties for the visitors.
The negative mindset, however, did result in main protagonist Adam Coleman yellow carded for a dangerous charge on All Blacks fullback Ben Smith late in the first half.
The All Blacks did not score again while Coleman was off the field as the Wallabies slowed the pace even further, with the game at times descending into squabbles.
Julian Savea then gave his side some breathing space just after Coleman returned when Barrett’s blistering pace again exploited space in the Wallabies defence before Same Cane grabbed his side’s fourth try about 15 minutes later.
Both sides now have a week off in the Rugby Championship before the All Blacks face Argentina in Hamilton on September 10, while the Wallabies play South Africa in Brisbane.
The final match of the Bledisloe Cup, which is now a dead rubber, is in Auckland on October 22.