Rugby Rugby

All Blacks thrash Aussies to complete Bledisloe sweep

Winger Ben Smith (L) was one of five All Blacks to score as New Zealand battered Australia to complete a series sweep

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Oct 27 – World champions New Zealand crushed old foes Australia 37-20 in Japan on Saturday to complete a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup series whitewash.

Fly-half Beauden Barrett scored 17 points and was five-from-six with the boot in Yokohama as the All Blacks piled more pressure on the struggling Wallabies and under-fire coach Michael Cheika.

Barrett dived over for the pick of New Zealand’s five tries just before the hour mark to cap a dazzling individual performance.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, slumped to a ninth defeat in their last 12 Tests after being dominated in all departments at the 2019 World Cup final venue.

Liam Squire, Kieran Read, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane also touched down for the rampant all Blacks, who came into the Japan Test having won nine of the last 10 matches against their trans-Tasman rivals.

“I felt we were able to control the game,” said New Zealand skipper Read, whose side will be chasing a World Cup hat-trick in Japan next year.

“We showed some great patience with the ball and connected well together,” he added. “The World Cup is a massive tournament and we have to come prepared next year — hopefully we can produce the same as we got tonight.”

Sonny Bill Williams set up New Zealand’s opener on his 50th Test appearance with a clever pass for Squire to crash over after sustained All Blacks pressure.

A long Kurtley Beale penalty cut the deficit before Read rolled off a scrum to score easily, helped by some matador Wallabies defending.

Australia hit back just before halftime with some direct build-up play that allowed Sefanaia Naivalu to bulldoze over in the corner to cut New Zealand’s lead to 17-10.

Barrett and Bernard Foley traded penalties early in the second half before Barrett exchanged slick passes with Ioane to race clear for a brilliant third try for New Zealand that triggered awed gasps from a crowd of 46,000.

– Game over –

Barrett’s conversion put the All Blacks up by 12 points, and when Silatolu Latu was sin-binned for a retaliatory slap to Codie Taylor’s face it was effectively game over for the Wallabies.

Smith added insult to injury moments later when he found space to dive over and make it 32-13, although Australia grabbed a late consolation try through Israel Folau, who impressed in his first Wallabies start at centre.

However, there was still time for the prolific Ioane to complete a man of the match display by chalking up his 22nd try in 21 Tests, collecting an outrageous through-the-legs pass from Barrett to score in the corner.

“That certainly wasn’t the outcome we were going for,” said Australia captain Michael Hooper.

“It’s a bit of a punch in the face when you come out with a scoreboard like that. Yet again we’ve given too many opportunities to New Zealand and they’re so clinical in those areas.”

New Zealand look to have got themselves back on track after looking vulnerable of late, particularly in splitting a brutal two Tests against South Africa.

“Australia are a formidable opponent and on their day they can play very well,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, whose side take on Japan in Tokyo next weekend before completing their five-match tour against England, Ireland and Italy.

“It was important that we started the tour with a good performance and we did that today.”

The Wallabies, who lost six of eight games before a stunning 45-34 comeback win over Argentina earlier this month, play November Tests away to Wales, Italy and England.