New Zealand thrash Australia 40-12 to retain Bledisloe Cup

Australia's Michael Hooper is tackled by New Zealand's Joe Moody during the Bledisloe Cup rugby test match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday Aug. 25. (AP Photo/David Rowland)
Australia’s Michael Hooper is tackled by New Zealand’s Joe Moody during the Bledisloe Cup rugby test match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday Aug. 25. (AP Photo/David Rowland)

Auckland, New Zealand (AP) — Flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored four tries and contributed 30 points as New Zealand thrashed Australia 40-12 in a Bledisloe Cup rugby test on Saturday to retain the trophy for the 16th straight year.

Considered under pressure to keep the No. 10 jersey before the series began, Barrett produced a masterly performance to guide the All Blacks to a 2-0 lead in the three-match Bledisloe Cup series. He was also instrumental in New Zealand’s 38-13 win in the first test in Sydney last weekend.

Barrett scored twice in the first half, crucially in the 37th minute as New Zealand gained a 14-7 lead at the end of a tight opening spell.

He completed his hat trick in the 62nd to quell a brief Wallabies comeback, and then was denied a fourth try in the 65th when the television match official contentiously ruled there had been a knock-on in the lead-up.

Barrett needed only three minutes to remedy the error. He scored his fourth try in the 68th, taking his tally with five conversions to 30 points — a record for a New Zealand player in a test against Australia.

The match in many ways mirrored the first test. New Zealand scored a crucial try at the end of a tight first half, then scored again immediately after the break to launch a torrent of scoring in the second spell.

In Sydney, the All Blacks scored five tries and 33 points after halftime. On Saturday they added four tries and 26 points in the second 40 minutes.

It was New Zealand’s 30th win in their last 34 tests against Australia, ensuring they remained unbeaten against the Wallabies at Eden Park since 1986, and extended their winning streak in all tests at the Auckland stadium to 42 matches since 1991.

“We respect the Bledisloe Cup and we respect what the Wallabies bring every week when we play them,” All Blacks captain Kieran Read said. “It doesn’t come easy for us, we’ve got to work really hard. We show our respect in the work we put in and we’re really happy to have that cup again.”

Once again, as they did in Sydney, Australia threw everything into their first-half effort and the teams were approaching the break at 7-7. But Barrett’s try immediately before halftime gave the All Blacks the lead and a surge of confidence which was manifested in two tries in the first seven minutes of the second half.

Lock Brodie Retallick was again massively influential as the All Blacks demonstrated that they are more skilled, more physical and more cohesive than Australia, who are increasingly under pressure to reverse a slump in form.

Australian Rugby has endorsed Michael Cheika as coach through the 2019 World Cup but his position won’t be helped by this defeat by six tries to two.

New Zealand also had three tries disallowed on the say-so of the TMO — one to Barrett, one to his brother Jordie and another to winger Waisake Naholo.

The Wallabies did their best to remain positive after a 0-2 start to the Rugby Championship.

“I’ve got full belief in our team, I’ve got full belief in our players,” captain Michael Hooper said. “Something is not going right at the moment in certain parts of our game but I’ll die being a believer in this team and I’ve got full confidence we can turn the corner.”