The All Blacks have chalked up their 100th Test win over the Wallabies – a commanding 47-29 triumph – to leave Australia’s Bledisloe Cup hopes in tatters for yet another year.
It was a sorry case of new coach, same old Wallabies as the All Blacks piled on six tries to two at ANZ Stadium in an ominous opening to the world champions’ Rugby Championship campaign.
No Dan Carter, no problems for the All Blacks, with Ewen McKenzie unable to replicate the feat of his coaching predecessor Robbie Deans and mastermind a victory over Australia’s trans-Tasman rivals in his first Test at the helm.
After entering the McKenzie era full of hope and excitement, the Wallabies now face the grim prospect of watching the All Blacks hoist the Bledisloe Cup for a 12th straight year next Saturday in Wellington.
The Wallabies haven’t beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in 14 Tests since 2001 and, even if they find a way to break the long drought, the series will be decided at Dunedin’s House of Pain on October 19.
Not since 1949 have the Wallabies won back-to-back Tests in New Zealand in the same year.
On Saturday night’s showing, the Wallabies can kiss the Cup goodbye with the All Blacks outclassing McKenzie’s men across the park.
Rookie fullback Jesse Mogg had a shocker, playmaker-cum-winger James O’Connor went missing and Israel Folau barely touched the ball as Australia’s grand plan to run the world champions ragged proved fanciful.
Australia had conjured just one try in their four previous Bledisloe clashes under Deans and, if not for a 70-metre solo effort from halfback Will Genia and a last-minute consolation five-pointer to O’Connor, they would have gone tryless once again.
Mogg was hooked after All Blacks centre Conrad Smith brushed him off to secure victory with New Zealand’s fourth try in the 58th minute.
While he couldn’t be blamed for the defeat, uncapped five-eighth Matt Toomua followed suit shortly after as McKenzie threw mercurial playmaker Quade Cooper into the fray for his first Test after 11 months in exile under Deans.
But trailing by 18 points with as many minutes remaining, Cooper’s task was mission impossible and it was the All Blacks, in fact, who continued their tryscoring avalanche upon his introduction.
Winger Ben Smith, who opened the scoring in just the third minute and then nabbed a second early in the second half, completed his hat-trick eight minutes before fulltime.
With centre Christian Lealiifano landing four penalty goals, Australia actually led 12-10 after 28 minutes.
But their advantage lasted but a minute, with five-eighth and man-of-the-match Aaron Cruden charging down a sloppy kick from Lealiifano to score the softest of tries and then slotting the conversion.
The All Blacks were in again three minutes later when O’Connor was caught off his wing and skipper Richie McCaw – playing his first Test in almost nine months after a sabbatical – dived over in the corner.
Genia’s long-range effort, after flanker Michael Hooper pounced a lost All Blacks lineout throw, kept the Wallabies within striking distance at just 25-19 down at the break.
But three tries to the two Smiths put the Wallabies to the sword before O’Connor crossed in the dying seconds.