Tri-Nations - Unbeaten All Blacks win Bledisloe Cup

Reuters - Sat, 07 Aug 10:52:00 2010

New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup and all but secured the Tri-Nations trophy with a 20-10 victory over Australia at Lancaster Park.

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The victory, courtesy of converted tries by fullback Mils Muliaina and centre Conrad Smith and two penalties from fly-half Daniel Carter, was also the All Blacks' ninth successive win against the Wallabies.

Fullback Kurtley Beale scored an opportunist try, while fly-half Matt Giteau added a conversion and penalty for the Wallabies, who have now matched their worst losing streak against New Zealand. They also lost nine Tests from 1936-47.

The All Blacks have 19 points in the Tri-Nations and need just one more point in their remaining two games against South Africa on August 21 and Australia on September 11 to be certain of sealing a fifth title in six years.

Australia stayed on four points after three matches with South Africa, yet to register a point, bottom of the standings.

"From our point of view its about the Bledisloe Cup," All Blacks coach Graham Henry said. "It's a big trophy for New Zealand rugby and the boys value it highly.

"They're delighted. It was a big Test match to secure that Cup and it was a major plus."

The match was a classic 'game of two halves', with both sides playing at a frenetic pace and sending the ball wide in sweeping movements in the first spell, though the second half degenerated into a dour defensive struggle.

The Wallabies dominated possession but their one-dimensional game plan of hammering away at New Zealand's defensive line was continually thwarted.

The All Blacks, meanwhile, have played a scintillating style in this year's Tri-Nations but failed to execute as well as they had in their previous three matches, dropping the ball at crucial times when they were on attack.

"It was a better effort from us," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said. "We produced a lot more position and possession but the All Blacks were successful in denying us momentum which would have been helpful converting that possession into points."

All three tries came in the first 15 minutes, with the All Blacks able to turn defence into attack and open the scoring when Joe Rokocoko put Muliaina clear with 25 metres to run down the left hand touchline. Carter converted for a 7-0 lead.

The Wallabies, however, responded almost immediately when an All Blacks backline movement broke down and Beale scooted away. Giteau converted to level the scores.

Smith grabbed the All Blacks' second try after the home side again used wide passes to put the outside players into space and Carter added the sideline conversion.

Giteau and Carter then traded penalties and while the All Blacks spent the final few minutes of the half attacking the Wallabies line, they were unable to add to their advantage and went into the break with a 17-10 lead.

The second half, however, failed to match the pace of the first and Carter finally broke the deadlock after the break when he slotted his second penalty with 10 minutes remaining to give the All Blacks some breathing room.

Reuters

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