Outstanding ball retention, patience on defence and unerring forward drive led by lock Scott Barrett in his finest Test saw the All Blacks claim three prizes. –Action Press reporter Lynn Mc Connell

By Roger Childs

In front of the largest crowd ever to watch a rugby test in Australia, the All Blacks crushed the Wallabies 38-7. There were 83,944 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to see the local team crash to their third consecutive defeat of the season.

As in their previous two matches against the Pumas and the Springboks, the All Blacks started strongly. In the fourth minute Scott Barrett nailed the Australian half back on the goal line after a lineout and Shannon Frizell snapped up the dropped ball to score. However, three minutes later at the other end, Korolbiti went under the posts for a try to give his side a 7–5 lead. As it turned out, those were the last points scored by the Wallabies in the game.

A dominant performance

It would be the 33rd minute before the All Blacks scored again, this time from a lineout drive with hooker Codie Taylor crashing over. Then, just before half time, right winger Will Jordan scored in the corner to make it 19-7. The Wallabies dominated the third quarter but they couldn’t breach the staunch defence of the visitors.Two yellow cards didn’t help the home side, and they were never in the hunt for the rest of the game. The All Blacks added three more tries to Caleb Clarke, Mark Telea and Rieko Iaone. The last came after an excellent run and a well-timed final pass by Telea on the right flank.The Wallabies had their moments, but could exploit some good breaks made, notably a second half run by prop Angus Bell who was the stand-out player for the home team.

Strong all-round effort by the All Blacks

The team was well led by stand-in captain Ardie Savea who played with his usual enthusiasm and commitment. There was a 100% success rate in lineout takes with Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett featuring, and the All Black scrums frequently pushed the Wallabies back. Barrett was probably the best of the forwards on the day. The backs ran and passed well and there wasn’t a single knock-on. With a commanding lead early in the final quarter, coach Ian Foster had the luxury of being able to empty the reserve bench and the replacements all made positive contributions. Wellington half back Cam Roigard, had his first outing in the black jersey and turned in a tidy performance.

Referee Wayne Barnes, has come a long way since his amateurish performance officiating in the 2007 quarter-final which cost the All Blacks the crucial match against France. At the MCG he let the play run and refereed with confidence and authority.

Trophies in the cabinet

The All Blacks emphatic win in Melbourne meant the retention of the Bledisloe Cup which the Australians haven’t won for 20 years. New Zealand will now play Wallabies in Dunedin next Saturday in the second Bledisloe test, and if they win, they will add the cup for The Four Nations Rugby Championship to the trophy cabinet.

The preparations for the September Rugby World Cup are going very well, and with the excellent depth in New Zealand rugby currently, there is plenty of competition for places in the squad going to France.