Bledisloe Cup 2013 Results: Game 2 Score and Recap for New Zealand vs. Australia
New Zealand had cantered to a 47-29 victory in the opening Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia.
The All Blacks, led by the stunning performance of Ben Smith, proved too powerful for a Wallabies team that suffered inconsistent form during the Sydney clash.
How would both teams fare in the intense atmosphere of the WestPac Stadium? Could New Zealand capture the Bledisloe Cup on home turf? Let's recap game two.
Australia looked to make an immediate impression on New Zealand territory and forced the All Blacks into conceding an early offside call. Christian Lealiifano's kick gave the visitors a 3-0 lead, adding to his perfect international rugby record.
Julian Savea immediately burst into life for the hosts and came close to giving New Zealand the advantage. An excellent try-saving tackle from Israel Folau halted his momentum before the Wallabies were penalised for offside.
Tom Taylor entered the team for his first appearance in Test rugby, but unfortunately for Aaron Cruden's replacement, he missed an initial attempt to level the score.
Lealiifano quickly returned the favour with a missed penalty of his own. The Aussie star then went close to landing the first try of the day, falling right at the line. He eventually converted another penalty after an All Blacks infringement.
Despite Australia working hard to establish a lead, New Zealand's Ben Smith continued his excellent run of form to score the match's opening try. Ben Smith produced a hat-trick in game one and gave Taylor the chance to make up for his earlier misfortune. The newly-introduced player did exactly that, making the score 7-6 to the hosts.
Plenty of individual errors followed the early flurry of points, with little to separate either team. It was important Australia continued to challenge the All Blacks with relentless intensity, but another Taylor penalty saw New Zealand open a 10-6 gap.
Ma'a Nonu's powerful tackling came to the fore shortly after as he smashed into James Slipper. Although the Wallabies continued to play more directly than the opening encounter, another Ben Smith try gave New Zealand a 15-6 lead just before half-time.
New Zealand 7 v Australia 6 - 1st Half 27:55 - Conversion T. Taylor #NZLvAUS— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 24, 2013
As in last week's match at the ANZ Stadium, Australia struggled to compete with New Zealand after the break. This was another 40 minutes that underlined the All Blacks' ability to power through an opposition's attack that lost focus in the latter stages.
Australia's 12-year winless streak in New Zealand, combined with the hosts 26-game unbeaten run at home, began to look ominous at this point. Could the visitors put themselves back in contention for the famous trophy?
Ben Smith averaging a try every 24 minutes in his last two games...against Australia. #NZvAUS— Tom Sunderland (@TomSunderland_) August 24, 2013
While dominant in possession, Australia's lack of penetration always threatened to undermine their efforts. Another penalty provided Taylor with the chance to add further points, a duty he duly delivered on 53 minutes, pushing the score to 18-6.
After a memorable try in the last match, Will Genia's lack of presence on the ball saw him go largely under the radar. His kick inside the 22 was charged down, almost gifting the home crowd another try to celebrate. While Genia got away with the mistake, Taylor made the score 24-9 with 10 minutes left.
Although the result was ominous at this point, Wallabies fans will be pleased by their side's ability to score points late on once again. Folau intercepted the ball and sprinted 65 metres to give Australia a glimmer of hope of getting back in the game. Lealiifano converted and cut the gap to 24-16.
As in the previous match, Australia soon lost momentum and allowed New Zealand to notch simple points. A penalty underneath the posts was kicked by Israel Dagg and left the final score 27-16.
Despite small signs of an improved performance from Australia, New Zealand captured the Bledisloe Cup in fairly simple fashion. Ben Smith's five tries across the two games highlighted the difference between the teams.
Celebrations for the home crowd, but for Australia, it's back to the drawing board.
Final Score: New Zealand 27-16 Australia, NZ retain the Bledisloe Cup.
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