The All Blacks stormed to a 38-7 win over a sore and sorry Australia on Saturday to seal a third consecutive Rugby Championship title and enjoy a major boost before the World Cup in France.
The victory in front of a massive crowd of 83,944 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground also ensured the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested by the trans-Tasman nations, will stay in New Zealand for a 21st year in succession.
“We’re delighted with that,” said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. “I think to come away with that sort of victory is something to be pretty proud of. To walk away with a couple of trophies is pretty special.”
Livewire winger Mark Telea grabbed a try in each half, while Shannon Frizell, Codie Taylor, Will Jordan, Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane also crossed for the All Blacks.
Australian hopes that Eddie Jones might engineer a turnaround in his second stint with the Wallabies have proven forlorn, with the team winless from their three games in the truncated Rugby Championship.
Barring periods of defiance at the start of each half, it was another undisciplined, ragged display by the hosts who were slapped with two yellow cards and made to pay.
The loss was further soured by a serious Achilles injury to veteran Allan Alaalatoa, while fellow prop Taniela Tupou suffered an apparent rib problem.
Jones described it as a “terrible result” but said he saw enough in patches to feel like Australia could be competitive at the World Cup.
“I really like the way we came out in the first 20 (minutes) in the first half and the first 15-20 in the second half but we couldn’t turn that into points,” he told reporters.
“We definitely ran out of gas at the end of the game. We had a number of blokes struggling.”
The Wallabies had a rough start, with scrumhalf Tate McDermott rammed over the try-line by Scott Barrett at a line-out, allowing Frizell to grab the loose ball and touch down before the third minute was up.
The Wallabies responded four minutes later, with Mark Nawaqanitawase providing the spark with a line-break, allowing Rob Valetini to burrow over under the posts four minutes later after a multi-phase attack.
The match turned again when winger Marika Koroibete was given a yellow card for deliberate off-side.
While off the ground, the All Blacks scored their second try when Taylor rumbled over from a clinical line-out drive.
Rookie flyhalf Carter Gordon’s restart kick failed to clear the 10-metre line. Alaalatoa was then hurt in the scrum and he was carted off the ground.
The All Blacks capitalised on Australia’s woes, with Richie Mo’unga popping a pass wide to Jordan who danced around a nest of defenders for a try at the right corner.
Mo’unga’s conversion put the All Blacks up 19-7 at halftime, and they held firm after the break, twice denying the Wallabies tries with stonewall defence on the line.
With Tupou grimacing on the bench, Australia had a second yellow card when replacement prop Angus Bell was sent off for a high tackle on Nepo Laulala.
Undermanned, the Wallabies promptly collapsed, conceding three tries in seven minutes as the All Blacks ran riot.
Clarke started the burst with a try at the left corner on the hour-mark. Telea grabbed his second on the right corner and Rieko Ioane completed a scintillating team try in the 67th minute before the All Blacks coasted to victory.