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New Zealand v Australia: All Blacks bounce back to beat Wallabies

New Zealand avenged last week’s defeat in Perth with a superb win over Australia to underline their claims to win the Rugby World Cup.

Critics had suggested the All Blacks’ era of dominance might be coming to an end after their 47-26 thrashing by the Wallabies seven days ago.

But a five-try display, featuring scores for new wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece, showed their strength.

Australia’s wait to lift the Bledisloe Cup now stretches into a 17th year.

“There has been a lot said this week and the guys fronted up tonight,” said All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

Kieran Read
The All Blacks have been unbeaten in 42 Tests at Eden Park since losing to France 23-20 in 1994.

Michael Cheika’s side had travelled to Auckland with hope of a first win at Eden Park since 1986 after their forward dominance set the platform for last week’s success.

One Australian tabloid boldly put images of Kiwi veterans Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Whitelock and Read through an ageing app as they poked fun at their Tasman rivals.

The visitors duly kept it tight for nearly half an hour with Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete both making threatening breaks as the All Blacks led by just Richie Mo’unga’s fourth-minute penalty.

But two tries in three minutes, the first a 60-metre interception score from Mo’unga before Bridge put scrum-half Aaron Smith in, gave the hosts a comfortable 17-0 lead at the break.

Centre Williams ploughed over shortly after the restart with Crusaders flier Reece, the top try-scorer in this season’s Super Rugby, chasing down his own kick ahead to register the All Blacks’ fourth try and his first international score.

Fellow wing Bridge, winning only his fourth cap, dived over in the final three minutes to add polish to the scoreline and increase the pressure on Reiko Ioane and Ben Smith, who were dropped in the wake of the Perth defeat.

New Zealand: B Barrett, Reece, Lienert-Brown, Williams, Bridge; Mo’unga, Smith, Moody, Coles, Laulala, Tuipulotu, Whitelock, A Savea, Cane, Read.

Replacements: Taylor, Tuungafasi, Ta’avao, Hemopo, Todd, Perenara, Laumape, J Barrett.

Australia: Beale; Hodge, O’Connor, Kerevi, Koroibete; Lealiifano, White; Sio, Latu, Alaalatoa, Rodda, Coleman, Salakaia-Loto, Hooper, Naisarani.

Replacements: Fainga’a, Slipper, Tupou, Simmons, Wright, Genia, Toomua, Ashley-Cooper. –