Australia 13-38 New Zealand: All Blacks pick up opening Rugby Championship win in Sydney again
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 20/08/18 4:15pm
New Zealand began the defence of their Rugby Championship crown - and Bledisloe Cup - in the perfect way possible on Saturday as they secured a bonus-point 38-13 win over Australia in Sydney.
Centre Reece Hodge and out-half Bernard Foley had kicked the Wallabies into a 6-0 first-half lead, before Aaron Smith scored a try in the opening period's final minute - as the All Blacks so frequently do.
The second half saw further All Black tries from centre Jack Goodhue, out-half Beauden Barrett, second row Brodie Retallick and wing Waisake Naholo (twice) as Australia were guilty of making far too many errors - particularly at the set-piece.
Jack Maddocks scored a consolation try for Australia on his Test debut, but Michael Cheika's team were left with a familiar feeling on opening day in Sydney.
Both sides will now meet again next Saturday in the second week of the 2018 Rugby Championship, as the All Blacks host the Wallabies at Eden Park, live on Sky Sports.
Australia started brightly and New Zealand wing Naholo was fortunate to avoid a yellow card when lifting Israel Folau above the horizontal five minutes in.
The decision by South African referee Jaco Peyper was a penalty only, and the chance was wasted soon after when the Wallabies lost the lineout, and lost a second one soon after that.
The first points of the day came after nine minutes when Kieran Read was penalised for hands in at the ruck and Hodge stepped up to knock over a penalty from over 40 metres out.
The All Blacks lost centre Ryan Crotty to concussion after just 13 minutes when he clashed heads with team-mate Jack Goodhue, but Steve Hansen's side should have had the lead two minutes later.
When Foley was caught offside off an Aaron Smith pass, Barrett produced a sensational kick to the corner but Rieko Ioane knocked the ball on after an intricate lineout move five metres out.
Australia doubled their advantage five minutes later when after a period of pressure in the New Zealand 22, All Black blindside flanker Liam Squire - perhaps harshly - was penalised at the ruck when he looked to turn the ball over five metres from his own tryline.
Bernard Foley split the uprights for 6-0 and thereafter, New Zealand continued to make uncharacteristic errors: knocking the ball on repeatedly, missing touch and losing lineouts.
A suspect-looking call by referee Peyper against an Australia scrum on the Wallabies feed allowed New Zealand to kick to the corner as the half drew to a close.
After winning an initial penalty at the maul, New Zealand kicked to the corner again but Izack Rodda produced a dominant steal, while Dane Haylett-Petty bundled Naholo into touch as the All Blacks remained scoreless after 35 minutes.
A powerful All Black scrum against the head with three minutes of the half remaining allowed Barrett a penalty chance directly in front from 40 metres, but he dragged his effort wide.
New Zealand's first points of the day came in the final minute of the half though, as Aaron Smith scored when Ben Smith broke the tackle of Lukhan Tui down the right and found Naholo, who did brilliantly to remain in play and offload back inside to where Read found Smith.
They did not have to wait long into the second half to score again when Goodhue - making his Rugby Championship debut - finished a length-of-the-field score three minutes in, after Naholo turned the ball over in his own 22 and the All Blacks countered through Ioane out wide.
The Wallabies spurned a golden chance minutes later when after Will Genia intercepted within his 22 and found Foley, the Australia out-half kicked ahead for Koroibete, who did brilliantly to offload back into midfield, but replacement hooker Tolu Latu offloaded forward from there with men free out wide.
That missed chance was doubly frustrating for Cheika and co when Barrett scored a try soon after almost entirely of Australia's making.
Wing Haylett-Petty knocked on in his own half off a set-piece move, and the All Black 10 showed super control with the boot to kick ahead three times before grounding.
Wallabies debutant Jack Maddocks and hooker Latu had chances within the same move to put Hodge away for a try, but neither were taken.
From there, the Wallabies started to unravel as they lost four lineouts in a row on their own throw and conceded another try through Retallick with Folau off the pitch injured - and that after the Wallabies had missed another opening on the counter.
Replacement back Maddocks scored a try on debut after a fluid move involving Foley and Beale, but Naholo would score two more tries before the end for New Zealand.
The first off a superbly weighted left-foot kick by Barrett - which survived a TMO review for offside - and the second after a ruthlessly quick attack down the left.
The victory was a record 13th consecutive Rugby Championship success and the most points scored by an All Blacks team against Australia in a second half (33) in history - the previous record having been 27 points conceded in one half in 1936.