03 August 2008

All Blacks power to big win

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw helped inspire his side to a commanding return to form when beating Australia 39-10 at Eden Park to keep its Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup hopes alive in Auckland.
It extended the run of losses Australia had suffered at the ground, not having won since 1986, but more importantly it proved the all the competitive instincts associated with the All Blacks tradition are still apparent in the modern breed as they claimed a bonus point win with a last-minute try to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu.

Nonu and prop Tony Woodcock each scored two tries.

It was a display of concentrated application aimed at eliminating the frustrations of the first Test between the sides in Sydney last week. Ball retention was almost faultless by comparison while the scrum was able to operate efficiently under the control of referee Mark Lawrence.

That gave the inside backs the opportunity to dictate terms. Halfback Jimmy Cowan had clearly his finest game in the All Blacks jersey while first five-eighths Dan Carter, who landed two conversions and four penalty goals for 16 points, demonstrated the subtleties of his kicking game with a superb display.

There was also a hunger among the chasing pack when Australian runners were dislocated from their support and a ruthlessness all too rare in recent displays.

Conditions were damp, but expected rain stayed away for the first half in a game which produced the expected amount of kicking, but with much more effect by the All Blacks.

Two tries in three minutes at the end of the first quarter to Woodcock lifted the All Blacks' confidence.

Leading the way with a challenging display was lock Ali Williams who was in outstanding touch, complementing his control at the re-starts where New Zealand looked so much more assured. He also competed at Australian lineout throws to upset the Wallaby momentum.

McCaw's return in the loose gave a competitiveness lacking in his absence and his determination eliminated the effect of the Australian loose forwards George Smith and Phil Waugh significantly.

The first try, after 20 minutes, from a scrum at which Australian prop Al Baxter was told by referee Mark Lawrence, "I've been as patient as I can, now you've got to scrum properly."

The All Blacks spun the ball where second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu charged at the line. When he went to ground the All Blacks set up the ruck and it was Woodcock who positioned himself off the ruck to take Cowan's pass and batter his way over the line, perfectly slung in low body position.

From the re-start, again well-controlled by lock Ali Williams, the kick was taken and Cowan sent a lovely kick which rolled towards touch at the corner flag where fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper had no option but to let the ball go out.

Williams rose to take the ball and direct it down to Woodcock who took the ball again and charged through to score.

Australia's reply came in the 31st minute after first five-eighths Matt Giteau kicked behind the New Zealand backs. Replacement lock Dan Vickerman, who was on for Nathan Sharpe in the blood bin, secured a fine take and with centre Stirling Mortlock running onto the ball at pace, to beat Conrad Smith's tackle and set up Ashley-Cooper for the perfect run in to score.

Giteau's conversion made the score 18-10 to New Zealand.

Yet another penalty conceded by flanker George Smith, for playing the ball off his feet and deliberately ripping the ball resulted in Carter landing his third penalty goal of the half.

Two minutes into the second half, a thumping tackle by Richie McCaw on Australian halfback Luke Burgess saw the ball drop loose and it was cleared by hooker Andrew Hore with second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu handling twice before going over wide out.


New Zealand 39 (Tony Woodcock 2, Ma'a Nonu 2 tries; Dan Carter 2 con, 5 pen) Australia 10 (Adam Ashley-Cooper try; Matt Giteau con, pen). HT: 21-10

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