Australia’s Bledisloe Cup anguish lives on, its hopes reduced to rubble in a harrowing 36-0 loss to the All Blacks at their Eden Park graveyard.
Having raised hopes they could lift the trans-Tasman prize for the first time in 17 years following last week’s record 47-26 win in Perth, the Wallabies were overwhelmed by the motivated hosts on Saturday.
In wet conditions, New Zealand’s physicality went to a new level, scoring five tries and providing evidence they aren’t the declining force some had suggested.
Australian coach Michael Cheika had little to cheer as his team were held scoreless for just the second time in any Test since 1973.
It’s no surprise the other was at Eden Park, when New Zealand prevailed 22-0 in 2012, another chapter in Australia’s 33-year drought at the venue.
Their only bigger loss to New Zealand was the 43-6 humbling in Wellington in 1996, also in the wet.
Steve Hansen, in charge of the All Blacks for the 100th time, was on his feet more than once in the coaching box, betraying the pressure he was under this week.
New Zealand dominated the collisions, like Australia had done a week earlier.
It gave half-back Aaron Smith the sort of platform to control the game opposite Nic White had enjoyed in Perth.
An early New Zealand penalty goal to Richie Mo’unga was followed by Australia’s best period, camping on attack much of the opening half hour.
All they had to show was two penalty shots from five-eighth Christian Lealiifano, which were both missed.
On a night not suited to expansive rugby, the Wallabies chanced their arm and paid the price when Reece Hodge’s spill was pounced on by a speedy Mo’unga, who raced 60m untouched.
The knife was twisted soon afterwards when Smith backed up a70m Kiwi counter-attack to push his team to a 17-0 half-time lead.
New Zealand’s discipline was a problem at Perth and reappeared just before the break when hooker Dane Coles was shown a yellow card for a dangerous judo-style flip to clean out White.
However, the match was summed up by two subsequent scrums when a seven-man All Blacks pack sent the Wallabies skidding.
Sonny Bill Williams’ muscular on return at inside centre was rewarded with a try when he burst onto Smith’s short pass.
The last two New Zealand tries went to young wingers Sevu Reece and George Bridge, who were both surprise selections ahead of accomplished pair Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane.