NZ beats Australia 37-10 for record 18th straight test win
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand overwhelmed Australia 37-10 Saturday in the third Bledisloe Cup rugby test to post a world record 18th-straight test win.
The All Blacks outscored Australia six tries to one to surpass the record streak of the New Zealand team which won 17 tests between 1965 and 1969, the Springboks who won the same number in the late 1990s and a later All Blacks team whose 17-match streak was ended by Australia in 2014.
New Zealand faced a much more competitive Australia team on Saturday than the ones they had beaten 42-8 and 29-9 in earlier Bledisloe Cup matches this season to extend its 14-year hold on that trophy.
New Zealand also continued its winning streak against Australia at Eden Park which stretches back 30 years to 1986 and remained unbeaten against the Wallabies at all New Zealand venues since 2001.
The All Blacks remain unbeaten in a world record 45 tests at home since 2009 and Kieran Read became the first test captain to lead his team to 19 consecutive test victories.
"We had a good buildup during the week and there was a lot of talk in the media about the record," Read said. "I'm really stoked for the lads.
"The Wallabies really brought it to us tonight. We had to dig deep. It took 70-odd minutes before we really opened them up."
The records helped to disguise the worst performance by the All Blacks this season, which was induced by a combative Australian team.
After scoring three early tries, New Zealand was bustled into errors by the Wallabies who were especially aggressive and competitive at the tackle and at breakdowns, winning more than 60 percent of possession and spending more than seven minutes inside the All Blacks' 22.
"They put us under pressure in certain areas and played really well in doing that," Read said. "I think once we held onto the ball we were much better and it was pretty awesome there at the end."
The difference between the teams was finishing ability, as it has been repeatedly between New Zealand all of the teams it has faced since its winning streak began at Eden Park in August 2015.
New Zealand had a handful of scoring chances on Saturday and converted nearly all of them. Australia had few and converted only one, though they also had a try contentiously disallowed during the second half which would have drawn it level with New Zealand at 15-15.
That incident and another almost immediately afterward highlighted one of the weaknesses of this Wallabies team under its current coach Michael Cheika.
In the 45th minute Henry Speight was dashing away to score the try which would have tied the scores when his winger Dane Haylett-Petty shoulder checked All Blacks winger Julian Savea who was in fruitless pursuit. Savea wouldn't have prevented the try being scored but Haylett-Petty's action, spotted by the video referee, led to Speight's try being disallowed.
Two minutes later, All Blacks hooker Dane Coles was in pursuit of a ball kicked behind the Wallabies line when he was impeded by Australia flyhalf Bernard Foley. Referee Nigel Owens considered video footage and decided no offense had been committed but Foley's challenge on Coles was clumsy and easily could have yielded a penalty try.
That focus on needless off-the-ball play, a feature of the Wallabies' style under Cheika, let them down Saturday when they were more than competitive for 50 minutes.
New Zealand once again over-ran its opponents in the last 30 minutes, as it has throughout the season, when Savea scored two tries and contributed to another for Coles.
Australia had trailed 15-10 after 50 minutes and must have thought it had a chance on a ground where it hadn't won in the last 30 years. When the Wallabies next were able to draw breath and look up at the scoreboard, the All Blacks had an unassailable lead.
Savea scored his first try in the 53rd minute, after a quiet first half, when All Blacks fullback Ben Smith pounced on a Wallabies turnover and put in a kick ahead which the winger retrieved.
He scored again in the 68th minute when he was given space down the left flank and bumped off the ineffectual tackles of Speight and Nick Frisby.
Savea then powered down the touchline in the 72nd minute and, when held, handed off to Coles who dotted down in the corner.
The All Blacks had seemed on course for a substantial win when they scored two tries early in the first half.
Winger Israel Dagg scored after only six minutes after a break by center Anton Lienert-Brown and some marvelous interplay involving Ben Smith, who handled twice, Read and Dagg.
Lienert-Brown scored four minutes later from a defensive error at a scrum and, at 10-0 in as many minutes, it seemed the All Blacks would overwhelm their opponents.
But the Wallabies hit back with a try to rookie lock Rory Arnold and the All Blacks needed a charge-down try to scrumhalf T.J. Perenara in the 33rd minute to take a 15-7 lead to halftime.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett missed the conversions of each of those tries and was replaced in the 44th by Aaron Cruden, who kicked three of his four shots at goal.
The Wallabies were almost dominant in the middle stages of the match but were unable to turn a heavy advantage of possession into points. They have now lost seven of 10 tests this season.
The All Blacks soaked up pressure and struck back when chances appeared.
"We came over here to get a result and we knew it's always tough here," Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said. "We had a plan and I thought we were right in the game for most of it.
"But I think a lot of the tries came from turnovers. They're a quality side and they deserved the win."