Rugby Championship: New Zealand thrash Australia in Sydney


Rugby Championship: New Zealand thrash Australia in Sydney

New Zealand scored eight tries as the All Blacks dismantled Australia 54-34, in the opening game of The Rugby Championship at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia.

The world champions extinguished any chance of an upset with three tries in seven first-half minutes and sliced through the home defence nearly at will in the opening 50 to start their title defence with a bonus-point win.

To the surprise of many, it was the Wallabies who got on the scoresheet first thanks to a penalty after four minutes to Bernard Foley on the back of some excellent attacking bursts in the All Blacks' 22.

A double a-piece from Rieko Ioane and Ryan Crotty led the visitors to scoring six times in a whirlwind first half, with a 34 point lead at half time.

If history is any guide, the Bledisloe Cup will remain in New Zealand hands for a 15th straight year with the Wallabies having never won a series after losing the first match at home. Beale brought the flair we expected and scored Australia's third consecutive try when he scooped up a loose ball and ran 50 metres.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement: "We certainly understand that our game and our players are under public scrutiny and these latest stories are concerning".

Sonny Bill-Williams, following his red card and subsequent suspension during the Lions series, returned to the fold after an independent panel deemed a warm-up match for Saturday evening's game the fourth game of his ban.

The All Blacks dominated the Wallabies in the first half, leading the home side 40-6 at the break.

Beale gets tackled hard against the All Blacks
GETTY IMAGES Beale gets tackled hard against the All Blacks

New Zealand seemed headed for an historic winning margin but the tide turned.

It was more of the same after the restart with fullback McKenzie, playing his third test, getting reward for his thrilling running and winger Ben Smith giving the All Blacks a 54-6 lead after 48 minutes.

The Wallabies then themselves restored a sense of respectability to the scoreline with a quartet of tries.

To their credit, the Wallabies rallied to score four tries in 17 minutes, through debutant Curtis Rona, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau, but it was hard to escape the feeling that the All Blacks felt the job was already done by that stage.

"That first part of the game is not the level that you can be at, not in any game, let alone a game against them [New Zealand]".

By the end of 80 minutes, Australia had missed 48 tackles, which is just not good enough at global level.

Beauden Barrett looked to have added the final insult to proceedings for New Zealand, but the fly-half was denied after both he and Foley touchdown at the same time. Barrett's conversion made the score an eye watering 54-11. Ahead of the Second Test in Dunedin next weekend, there is much work to do for Michael Cheikha and his defensive pack.