New Zealand v Australia: Israel Dagg dominant in All Blacks’ victory

New Zealand broke away in the second half on Saturday as the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup yet again with a 29-9 win over Australia in Wellington.

New Zealand captain Kieran Read, centre, holds the Bledisloe Cup after their win over Australia on Saturday. Marty Melville / AFP / August 27, 2016
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New Zealand 29-9 Australia

Tries: NZ – Dagg 8’ (Barrett con), Dagg 22’, Savea 47’, Cane 62’ (Barrett con); AUS – None

Penalties: NZ – Barrett 14’; AUS – Foley 12’, Foley 21’, Hodge 35’

A rampant New Zealand inflicted further pain on Australia with a 29-9 victory to claim the Bledisloe Cup in Wellington on Saturday.

The Wallabies stayed in touch in the first half, with the All Blacks ahead only 15-9, but were kept scoreless in the second half as New Zealand added a further 14 points in the second-round Rugby Championship clash.

After thrashing the Wallabies 42-8 in Sydney a week ago, this victory enabled the All Blacks to lock the Bledisloe Cup away for another year making the third Test in October a dead rubber.

The cup is billed as the symbol of the trans-Tasman rivalry, but it has been all one-way traffic since 2002 when it was last held by Australia.

In two Tests this month the world champion All Blacks have scored 10 tries and conceded one.

But, unlike the first Test, when New Zealand were in command from the start, they did not have it all their own way for the first 46 minutes of the rematch.

Israel Dagg scored two tries with Julian Savea and Sam Cane also dotting down while Beauden Barrett landed three conversions and a penalty for the All Blacks.

The Wallabies points came from two Bernard Foley penalties and one by Reece Hodge.

For most of the game, the sublime flavour from a week ago was replaced by a scrappy, sour performance as Australia, as expected, began with considerable intent.

Amid the feisty start they claimed two turnovers in the first four minutes, but for all their endeavour and vastly improved line speed they made little headway.

Instead, their improvement on attack gave way to a struggling set piece, losing their own ball at crucial times, and their defence also let them down.

Aaron Smith and Barrett took turns at carving through the defensive wall to set up Dagg for the All Blacks’ two first half tries.

Their path forward was made easier by a one-man advantage as a result of the Wallabies’ decision to keep fly-half Quade Cooper away from the frontline.

Australia relied on three first half penalties, with Hodge – who came on for his Test debut when Adam Ashley-Cooper left the field with concussion – landing a booming 55-metre effort.

There was considerable acrimony in the first half which only settled down just before half-time when referee Roman Poite tired of issuing warnings and set Wallabies lock Adam Coleman to the sin-bin for a late charge on Ben Smith.

Dagg, who relished the move to the right wing, set up the first try in the second half when he beat Cooper in the air for the All Blacks to swing the ball to the other side of the field where Savea scored in the corner.

Cane bagged New Zealand’s fourth try after Ben Smith sliced through the Australia backs with 19 minutes remaining.

Although the All Blacks did not score again they spent most of the time camped in Wallabies territory and missed three possible tries through handing errors.

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