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All Blacks produce second-half blitz to claim dominant Bledisloe 2 win

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18th October, 2020
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A dominant second-half performance by the All Blacks has given them a 27-7 victory at Eden Park and a 1-0 series lead in the 2020 Bledisloe Cup.

After going into halftime with a slender 10-7 advantage, the All Blacks extended their lead straight after coming out of the sheds. Instead of clearing the ball off the kick-off, Australia opted to run out of their 22, and eventually gifted New Zealand excellent position from a box kick a few phases later. The hosts plugged away with the pick-and-go, before sending the ball wide to send Jordie Barrett over untouched.

They added another try five minutes later, too. The outstanding Caleb Clarke broke through tackle after tackle from a kick return, and the disorganisation caused by the winger’s burst allowed Ardie Savea to cross close to the left touchline.

The Wallabies replied with a strong passage of attacking play, and thought they had narrowed the margin when Brandon Paenga-Amoso grounded the ball on the try-line from a rolling maul.

However, the TMO ruled the hooker had unfairly advanced the ball after being tackled, and shortly after the All Blacks put on a display of their best attacking, running rugby and Sam Cane crossed under the posts to all but end the contest with more than 25 minutes left.

While the opening exchanges of the game were scoreless, they did not lack for excitement and entertainment.

The Wallabies enjoyed a better share of territory and possession early on, there was a nervousness with the ball in hand that wasn’t apparent in Game 1, with a number of unnecessary offloads being forced when a safer option would have been to hold the ball.

The side’s woes at the breakdown in attack also remained, with New Zealand turning the ball over at the ruck a good five or six times in the opening half-hour – although the Wallabies were able to immediately steal the ball back on two of those occasions.

It was the home side who finally broke the deadlock with nearly a quarter of the game gone. Taniela Tupou rushed a kick into the backfield, allowing Beauden Barrett to go on a devastating run into Wallabies territory. A penalty followed shortly after close to the posts, which Richie Mo’unga made no mistake with.

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Minutes later, the All Blacks threatened to break the game open when Aaron Smith snuck over the trying following a bruising run off a lineout from Jack Goodhue, but the Wallabies were able to answer shortly after.

With the attack stagnating, Ned Hanigan burst through a Joe Moody tackle, the Kiwi prop knocked out after getting his head in a horrible position in trying to bring Hanigan down. The flanker found Michael Hooper in support before, a couple of phases later, Marika Koroibete crossed out wide.

James O’Connor kicked truly to bring the margin back to three, and the 10-7 score remained at the break. However, the Wallabies were dealt a blow of their own with Matt To’omua re-injuring his groin and being forced from the field before halftime.

Australia missed the veteran centre’s defensive presence, and the All Blacks’ second-half onslaught means the Aussies must now win both Bledisloe games on home turf to reclaim the trophy.

New Zealand 27 (Aaron Smith, Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea tries; Richie Mo’unga 2/4 conversions; Mo’unga 1/1 penalty goals) def Australia 7 (Marika Koroibete try; James O’Connor 1/1 conversion)