New Zealand vs. Australia: Winners and Losers from Bledisloe Cup

Danny Coyle@dannyjpcoyleFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2014

New Zealand vs. Australia: Winners and Losers from Bledisloe Cup

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    New Zealand upheld their winning record over Australia at Eden Park as they retained the Bledisloe Cup for 2014.

    A 51-20 win, per, was richly deserved.

    After a series of penalty exchanges, the home side even rode a yellow card to skipper Richie McCaw to race into a 23-6 lead thanks to a penalty try and a classic counter-attacking score from Julian Savea.

    They were up to 44 points before a Wallaby revival added an element of respectability to the contest, but this was New Zealand showing just how deadly they are from turnover ball and how high they can raise the tempo.

    Here are your winners and losers.

Winner: Brodie Retallick

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    The second row had a barnstorming game for New Zealand. In the opening 20 minutes, the Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick put in a series of bone-shuddering tackles around the fringes.

    He then showcased his ability to link play when the All Blacks broke at speed. In addition, he was ever-dependable when kick-offs came his way and did his lineout work well.

    He was close to a try as he came thundering on to a short ball on 27 minutes and carried four Wallabies over the line with him, only for the officials to decide it hadn't been grounded, then he forced the turnover that lead to Julian Savea's counter-punch.

    He has developed into a world-class lock and displayed all of his attributes in this Test.

Loser: The Wallaby Scrum

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    Oh dear. On their first put-in of the match, Australia got shoved into the middle of next week and lost possession. It led to a passage of play that put the All Blacks a few metres out from the try line.

    After Brodie Retallick was held up, the home side had the put-in and marched the gold pack backwards again before they collapsed like a cheap deckchair and coughed up a penalty try.

    French referee Roman Poite might be well-known for favouring the better scrum, but any official on the planet would have done the same such was the New Zealanders' dominance.

Winner: Ryan Crotty

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    Implanted into the New Zealand midfield that has practically been home to Ma'a Nonu for a decade, Crotty performed brilliantly.

    He took the short crash ball well and looked for short pop pass options at every opportunity.

    Crotty's great talent is one that seems ingrained in so many players raised in New Zealand: He can play at pace with his head up.

    Another option in the All Black midfield has emerged, and it was a shame we didn't see him after half-time thanks to a cheek injury.

Loser: Israel Folau

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    Folau's first-half dash should have ended in a Wallaby try, but he failed to see the man outside him.

    He should have been given a penalty for the high shot that ended that attack from Cory Jane, but had he passed the ball to his free, supporting player, it would have been a moot point.

    He then spilled a pass in the second half as the Wallabies looked to attack. He scored a short-range try on the hour mark, coming on to an inside pop from Kurtley Beale, but compared to how dangerous Ben Smith and the All Blacks back three looked, Folau was a poor second.

    His miserable evening was capped when he raced clear after making an interception and looked for all the world like scoring a second try, only for the injured Beauden Barret to hunt him down and pull him to the deck.

Winner: Michael Hooper

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    The captain put in a tremendous amount of work defensively as the All Blacks poured forward in the middle third of the contest, forcing one hugely impressive turnover in the midst of a purple patch for the home side.

    He then scored an excellent try from a Wallaby lineout that demonstrated his raw pace as he out-sprinted Aaron Smith.