All Blacks keep their strangehold on Bledisloe Cup
Auckland: The All Blacks silenced their critics with a physical and polished performance to retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 17th season with a 36-0 victory over Australia that also quelled concerns the wheels might be coming off before the World Cup.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga scored a try and slotted nine points with the boot at Eden Park before he went off with a shoulder injury that could cause some concerns for coach Steve Hansen’s World Cup plans.
Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge also crossed for the All Blacks, who were humbled 47-26 last week in Perth.
It was the eighth time the All Blacks have kept the Wallabies scoreless in tests.
The Wallabies had high hopes they might be able to snatch back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 despite recent history being firmly against the visitors.
Australia had not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2001 - a run of 22 losses - and were winless in Bledisloe tests at Eden Park for the last 33 years.
They also invariably faced a backlash from the All Blacks smarting from a record loss.
The All Blacks were a completely different side from last week with a smart tactical kicking game and greater intensity but were rewarded with only a Mo’unga fourth-minute penalty.
The Wallabies were then able to get back into the game due to some poor discipline by the All Blacks as they conceded a succession of penalties.
Christian Lealiifano, however, missed two relatively easy shots at goal before the All Blacks blew the game open inside two minutes when Mo’unga pounced on a dropped ball by Reece Hodge and ran almost 60 metres to score the opening try.
Smith then scored the second try after a poor kick downfield allowed Barrett to counter-attack with Bridge, who exploited a mismatch through a gap and found the scrumhalf inside him to give the All Blacks a 17-0 lead.
The world champions could have been even better placed had hooker Dane Coles not been sinbinned in the 37th minute, with referee Jaco Peyper overturning a penalty advantage for the All Blacks while they were on attack.
The All Blacks however still managed to produce two massive scrums with just seven men, which created penalties and ultimately led to Williams smashing through two tacklers in the 45th minute to give his side a 24-0 lead.
The Wallabies always looked enterprising but were unable to breach the staunch rival defence and Reece and Bridge then crossed in the final 15 minutes to finish off superb individual matches that should earn both players selection for the World Cup squad.
AWESOME ALL BLACKS
33 - The number of years since they were last beaten by Australia at Eden Park in 1986 - a total of 19 Tests.
42 - The All Blacks have been unbeaten in 42 Tests (40 wins, 2 draws) at Eden Park since losing to France 23-20 in 1994.
18 - It has been 18 years since the All Blacks last lost to the Wallabies in New Zealand - 23-15 in Dunedin in 2001.
166 - The All Blacks and Wallabies have faced each other 166 times, with New Zealand winning 115 or 69.1 percent.
77.2 - New Zealand’s winning percentage in 583 Tests against all-comers since 1903. The All Blacks have won 451.
1 - The pole position in the World Rugby rankings which New Zealand have laid claim to since 2009. But a quirk in the system means they will be knocked off the top spot if Wales beat England this weekend regardless of the score, or if England beat Wales by more than 15 points.