All Blacks inflict further misery on Wallabies
New Zealand's All Blacks perform the Haka in Sydney, on August 17, 2013. The All Blacks beat the Wallabies 27-16 in their second Rugby Championship Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The margin was not as great as the 47-29 hiding inflicted a week ago in Sydney, but the comprehensive manner in which they dominated much of the game was familiar.
When the All Blacks had scoring opportunities they took them -- while the Wallabies had their attacking moments but, apart from one intercept try, were forced to rely on penalties.
The two tries to one second Test victory also means the All Blacks retain the Bledisloe Cup, contested annually between the two countries, for an 11th successive year.
Australian hopes that the appointment of Ewen McKenzie as coach signalled the dawn of a new era flickered momentarily in the opening exchanges of both halves -- but, outside that, the Black machine was rarely bettered.
Ben Smith, who bagged three tries a week ago, added two more while debutant flyhalf Tom Taylor landed a conversion and three penalties.
The Wallabies had their chances, but were forced again to rely on the boot of Christian Lealiifano to supply 11 of their points from a conversion and three penalties.
Israel Folau scored their late try when he intercepted a wild pass from Ma'a Nonu and ran 80 metres to score under the posts.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen accepted that for "long periods of the game" the Wallabies had an edge, but the All Blacks finishing firepower made the difference.
"We put them under a lot of pressure at scrum time throughout for most of the game and even in the lineout in the end we started to dominate them on their own throw," he said.
"But, the best factor was the ability to make the most of our opportunities. When we had opportunities we scored tries."
McKenzie was encouraged by the way his side started, but he felt they lost their way when the All Blacks piled on 15 points in even time in the lead up to the break.
"There were some great opportunities at different times, we just played the wrong way. So when we look in that first period of time we had a three man overlap a couple of times but didn't get to it (the line)," he said.
"Particularly off turnovers they're pretty good at finding opportunities so they make it look easy but we made then work throughout the game."
The Wallabies' revised tactic of swapping an expansive running game for the boot of Matt Toomua to keep them at the right end of the field failed to put enough pressure on the All Blacks.
The Australians made an ideal start, drawing first blood with the tireless Michael Hooper winning turnovers and leading them deep into All Blacks territory where Lealiifano slotted a handy penalty.
Another Hooper steal in the 20th minute led to Lealiifano carving through the All Blacks, and in a repeat scenario the Wallabies won a penalty on the New Zealand line which the inside centre converted.
Down 6-0, the All Blacks had had enough, immediately unleashing their renowned counter-attacking skills to turn a misdirected Wallaby clearing kick into a try by Ben Smith off a 40-metre movement.
Taylor, who missed his first penalty shot at goal, made no mistake with the conversion, followed it with a penalty, and as his confidence grew attempted a 53-metre penalty which fell just under the bar.
On the stroke of half-time, the Wallabies were punished again with heavyweight siderower Steven Luatua crashing through an ineffectual defence for the All Blacks to put Ben Smith over for his second try and to turn 15-6 ahead.
The Wallabies launched into the second half with the same venom with which they started the game, but despite hammering away at the All Blacks line they were unable to breach the watertight defence.
Taylor landed three further penalties in the second half and Israel Dagg kicked one while the Australians benefitted from a further penalty by Lealiifano who also converted Folau's try.
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