SYDNEY (AP) — New Zealand beat Australia 43-5 in a rugby union test match to clinch the Bledisloe Cup for an 18th straight year.
The All Blacks scored six tries to one, with flyhalf and man-of-the-match Richie Mo’unga scoring two tries and notching 23 points himself as the All Blacks took an unbeatable lead in the four-game series.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie handed test debuts to flyhalf Noah Lolesio and inside center Irae Simone, marking the first time in 73 years that Australia started a rookie combination at those positions against the All Blacks.
But the move didn’t go well, with Mo’unga overwhelming Lolesio as the All Blacks took a 26-0 halftime lead.
“We’re hurting a lot from that,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said. “It’s a hit to the confidence now. We’ve got to go back and look at sticking to our game plan.
“They were very clinical. They played the conditions really well, jumped on a lot of loose ball. I just don’t think we were accurate. So again giving away possession too easily and then we didn’t kick smart.”
The match was also the first in the Tri-Nations tournament which also includes Argentina.
In an action-packed 20 minutes of play, New Zealand winger Jordie Barrett was sent to the sin-bin for elbowing Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty. Then the All Blacks were denied two tries in four minutes.
First, hooker Dane Coles was deemed to have knocked the ball on over the line after showing great foot speed to reel in Mo’unga’s probing cross-field kick. Then Marika Koroibete forced Clarke dead in goal with a brilliant trysaver.
But there was no let-up from the All Blacks and they inevitably claimed their second try when Mo’unga switched inside and beat Wallabies hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, then Nic White and Lolesio for pace to dive over in the corner.
Mo’unga was in again shortly after when he collected a çhip kick from Beauden Barrett and raced 70 meters to score.
“They were terrific,” Rennie said. “We were poles apart tonight . . . the quality of their kicking game, the quality of their skill-set, we just really battled to deal with.”
New Zealand and Australia play again next Saturday in Brisbane.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports