The All Blacks set a new bar for points scored against Australia after beating their trans-Tasman rivals 57-22 on Saturday to keep hold of the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th year running.
New Zealand took the title in 2003 and haven’t let go since, sealing back-to-back wins at Eden Park over the past week to retain the trophy with one game to spare in the series.
Saturday’s victory also meant Ian Foster’s side take an early advantage in the 2021 Rugby Championship, having won the restructured Tri Nations tournament last year.
A dominant result gives New Zealand and Australia plenty to think about (though for different reasons), and Mirror Sport considers some of the key takeaways for both teams…
1. The All Blacks read the headlines
The media spoke, and the All Blacks listened.
New Zealand legend John Kirwan called last week’s opening salvo “the worst 30 minutes” he’d seen his old side play in the past five years—and Foster’s men took that personally.
Save for allowing Tate McDermott to go in under the posts just before the break, New Zealand showed a lot more impetus during the first half, scoring three of their eight tries in the opening 40.
The hosts could have not scored a single point and still have enough to win by two full scores if the second period panned out the same, though other teams may not roll over quite so easily.
The All Blacks face the Wallabies again on August 28 before continuing the Rugby Championship against World Cup titleholders South Africa and Argentina, who beat them for the first time in 2020.
2. Codie Taylor beating Dane Coles at his own game
For years it felt as though Dane Coles was in a realm of his own among modern hookers, but international compatriot Codie Taylor has shown the No. 2 isn’t alone as a master of his craft.
Hurricanes star Coles has more closely resembled a centre for much of his career, famed for bagging tries that few other hookers can replicate, scoring 17 times in his 76 All Blacks appearances.
But two tries against the Wallabies brought Taylor’s record up to 14 in 60 outings for New Zealand, giving him the slightly superior scoring ratio compared to his squad rival.
The contest leans even further in favour of the Crusaders talisman if we’re to compare their records as starters, with Taylor averaging almost a try in every other of his 33 starts to date.
3. Andrew Kellaway can fill Marika Koroibete void
The result really didn’t go the way Australia were hoping, but winger Andrew Kellaway is one Wallaby in particular who can come away from the loss with his reputation still intact.
One could even argue his profile grew at Eden Park with a consolatory brace of tries, improving his international record to three scores in only two Test starts.
It’s that kind of finishing both Australia and the Melbourne Rebels will be desperate to replace when his club and country team-mate Marika Koroibete joins the Saitama Wild Knights next year.
Koroibete—who has been the Wallabies’ biggest scoring threat by far in recent years—is set to sign a four-year agreement with the Japanese outfit, which could see him lose his Wallabies place.
In Kellaway, 25, both Australia and the Rebels have on their hands a wide presence of lethal finishing quality, evidenced with two efficient runs in from the right on Saturday.
4. Second-half strengths are back
New Zealand’s ability to finish strong has been debatably their biggest asset for some years now, honing a notorious knack for getting wins on the board where other teams might fail to recover.
The first-half performance in Bledisloe II improved a lot compared to the first Test, but it was the last 40 minutes in particular that will have reminded the home fans of the old All Blacks.
Some of that will be attributed to the Wallabies wilting both physically and mentally, but those home supporters will be mightily encouraged by the five-try procession after half-time.
A particularly promising sign was the hosts’ urge to keep playing past the 80 minutes despite having the win well in hand, resulting in a final David Havili score to cap their success.
5. Tate McDermott is a national treasure
An elite scrum-half is worth their weight in gold at Test level, and in McDermott, Australia look to have uncovered a No. 9 who could lead them to riches in time.
There wasn’t enough possession for the Queensland Red to maintain his levels in the second period, but McDermott’s display in the first half single-handedly spurred the Wallabies at times.
His frenetic pace from the breakdown rarely gave the All Blacks time to breathe, which is essential when one’s trying to break down arguably the best team on the planet.
Just as Antoine Dupont has had a transformative impact on France’s fortunes in recent years, McDermott is showing similar potential seven caps into his Australia career.
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