Tri-Nations - New Zealand punish Wallabies

Reuters - Sat, 31 Jul 12:45:00 2010

New Zealand's march to a fifth Tri-Nations title in six years gained pace with an emphatic 49-28 win over Australia made easier by the Wallabies having 14 men for most of the second half.

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The All Blacks charged out of the blocks in the first half, notching up four tries and a 32-14 lead to secure a bonus point before the break.

They added three tries in the second half to get their third win from three games in the Southern Hemisphere tournament.

Drew Mitchell started brightly with a try for the Wallabies after seven minutes but was sent off after earning his second yellow card two minutes after the break, leaving Australia unable to avoid their eighth straight loss to the All Blacks.

Fullback Mils Muliaina scored a try in each half for the All Blacks, while Dan Carter collected 19 points, including a try, four conversions and two penalties.

The Wallabies scored two tries through Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom in an improved performance after half-time but were left ruing Mitchell's indiscipline.

"We didn't have any consistent possession in the first half. Obviously playing with less than 15 men for the greater part of the game compounded that," Australia coach Robbie Deans told reporters.

Australia's second-half rally provided a flattering scoreline for the comprehensive rout that followed Mitchell's opportunistic first-half try. The winger smothered a clearing kick from Carter in the defensive 22, then pounced on the spilled ball to put the Wallabies 8-3 up.

Carter hit back immediately, however, blocking Berrick Barnes's clearing kick at the other end to collect the ball for his own try moments later.

Cory Jane consistently proved a menace out wide and, after receiving at midfield from a turnover, steamed down the right wing and placed a deft kick to allow Muliaina to cross for the All Blacks' second.

The All Blacks lost prop Owen Franks to a yellow card in the 24th minute but were unfazed and mounted wave after wave of ferocious drives.

Richie McCaw crossed for the All Blacks' third after swooping on a loose ball in the left-hand corner, before Mitchell was sent off.

Giteau put the Wallabies within eight points with his third penalty but Jane completed the first-half rout by sidestepping Richard Brown.

Mitchell earned his second yellow card for time-wasting after batting the ball out of an opponent's hands.

Down to 14 men with their defence in disarray, Australia were unable to stop Muliaina scampering over the line five minutes later for his second try to put the All Blacks up 37-14.

Ashley-Cooper shimmied between two defenders at the 56th minute for the Wallabies' second try, but winger Joe Rokocoko celebrated his comeback game with a try at the left-hand post minutes later.

Elsom gave the Wallabies their third try with nine minutes left but replacement Corey Flynn touched down in the left corner at the last minute as the All Blacks celebrated their best winning streak over their opponents since the record nine-Test streak from 1936 to 1947.

"I thought there was some scintillating rugby," New Zealand coach Graham Henry said, adding that the All Blacks still had room to improve.

"I think sides will get better as time goes on...We haven't got any feeling that we're ahead of the lot." 

Reuters

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