All Blacks overpower Wallabies
New Zealand overpowered Australia 27-19 to make a dominant start to the inaugural Rugby Championship yesterday with a string of handling errors gifting the game to the All Blacks.
New Zealand led 18-10 at half-time having applied huge pressure to the home side, with Australia now needing to win at Eden Park next week to keep alive any hope of lifting the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
It was the first meeting between the trans-Tasman rivals since the All Blacks’ 20-6 victory in the semi-finals of the World Cup and the Wallabies were their own worst enemies with too much dropped ball.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen claimed Australia would be psychologically scarred by the defeat with the All Blacks taking a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series for the Bledisloe Cup.
“We heard all week about how Australia was going to do this and do that,” Hansen said.
“They’ll be disappointed they didn’t do this and that.”
A try to Australia’s veteran lock Nathan Sharpe late in the first half and a penalty from fly-half Berrick Barnes soon after halftime pegged the deficit to 18-13 and sparked local hopes of an upset in front of 76,877 spectators.
But Australian coach Robbie Deans was left unimpressed, describing the string of handling errors as unforgivable.
“To their credit they put us under pressure, but it was really the unforced errors that put us in a difficult position,” he said.
“We have to be better. It would be impossible for us not to be. We’ll definitely be better next week.”
The Rugby Championship is being staged over the next six weekends. The leading side on the ladder after 12 home-and-away matches will claim the title.
South Africa win
There was no fairy tale debut for Argentina in the other match played yesterday as they fell 27-6 to more creative South Africa at Newlands.
An often scrappy game was won and lost in the first 20 minutes of the second half when the Pumas missed three penalty kicks after trailing 20-6 at half-time before right wing Bryan Habana snatched an opportunist try.
“We played well in patches but there is a lot of work ahead and we need to be hard on ourselves when analysing this match,” South Africa captain and outside centre Jean de Villiers said.