Jack Goodhue scored a brilliant debut try as New Zealand came from behind to seal a 38-13 Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia in a breathless Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium.
Goodhue made the most of his opportunity in the absence of Sonny Bill Williams, slotting in seamlessly and rising to the occasion after his fellow centre Ryan Crotty suffered an early injury.
Penalties from Reece Hodge and Bernard Foley gave the Wallabies a 6-0 lead, but Aaron Smith’s try on the stroke of half-time reduced the deficit to just a point in Sydney.
The defending champions then turned on the style in the second half. Goodhue and Beauden Barrett scored superb tries before Brodie Retallick went over and Waisake Naholo claimed a late double as Steve Hansen’s men ran away with it.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) August 18, 2018
Barrett showed why he remains the All Blacks’ first-choice fly-half, pulling the strings in Sam Whitelock’s 100th appearance for the world champions.
Jack Maddocks marked his international debut by scoring Australia’s only try, but they were unable to pull off a repeat of their win over their trans-Tasman rivals last October and also lost Israel Folau to what appeared to be an ankle injury.
The Wallabies made a positive start and were rewarded when Reece Hodge slotted over a penalty, Kieran Read punished for going off his feet attempting a turnover after eyebrows were raised when Naholo was not carded for a dangerous tackle on Folau.
Crotty’s participation was cut short due to a clash of heads with team-mate and debutant Goodhue, and Bernard Foley doubled Australia’s advantage from the tee following Anton Lienert-Brown’s early introduction.
New Zealand warmed to the task after coming under early pressure, but Naholo was bundled into touch by a combination of Foley and Dane Haylett-Petty after Read instructed Barrett to kick for the corner when three points were there for the taking.
Barrett dragged a penalty wide three minutes before the break, but the All Blacks conjured up a superb try to end the green and gold resistance with half-time looming.
Ben Smith burst through a gap and Aaron Smith was left with a simple finish after taking a pass on the inside from skipper Read following slick handling from Naholo, with Barrett unable to add the extras.
Australia were caught cold following the interval, Naholo once more having a big hand in a magnificent try when he stripped the ball from Marika Koroibete deep in New Zealand’s half and the excellent Goodhue raced away for a debut score after exchanging passes with Rieko Ioane.
The All Blacks went over again nine minutes later, the alert Barrett showing brilliant footwork and composure as he pounced on a loose ball and repeatedly kicked forward before dotting down for a third try, which he converted to give his side a 13-point cushion.
New Zealand were relentless, Retallick foxing Foley with a dummy and crossing after the towering lock stole the ball at a lineout, but Maddocks darted away to score an elusive first try for the hosts following excellent work from captain Michael Hooper.
Normal service was resumed after Folau hobbled down the tunnel, the clinical Naholo getting on the end of a perfectly weighted Barrett kick to touch down and taking advantage of tired Australia legs to help himself to a quickfire brace.
Barrett converted Naholo’s second to take his tally to 13 points as New Zealand laid down a marker with a commanding second-half showing.
Job done in Sydney. Let’s do it all again in Auckland next week. pic.twitter.com/2HBM8Ca7uz
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 18, 2018
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