New Zealand defeats Australia, again
Match bridges gap in both teams' seasons between end of Rugby Championships, which New Zealand won for the second straight year, and the All Blacks and Wallabies tours to Japan, Britain and Europe.
New Zealand flyhalf Aaron Cruden scored one try, made another and kicked 18 points, as New Zealand beat Australia 41-33 in the final Bledisloe Cup rugby test Saturday.
Cruden's first shot at goal, from more than 50 meters at Dunedin's indoor stadium, was a disaster, barely reaching the height of the crossbar and falling well short of the posts. He shrugged off that embarrassment to kick seven of his next nine attempts, as New Zealand beat Australia for the third time this season and won its 30th straight test at home.
Cruden contributed a pin-point crossfield kick to create a try for flanker Sam Cane, then scored a try of his own as New Zealand opened a 30-19 lead by halftime. Winger Julian Savea and captain Kieran Read also touched down for the All Blacks, while Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani scored tries for Australia.
Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper, treated as a pantomime villain by New Zealand crowds who boo his every action, restored himself a little in their affections with one of his best performances against the All Blacks.
Cooper kicked three penalties, three conversions and a drop goal for 18 points, defended stoutly and provided the pass that led to Ashley-Cooper's try just before halftime.
Toomua and Kuridrani both scored their first test tries for Australia, which outscored New Zealand by two tries to one in the second half and played with both spirit and enterprise.
Saturday's match bridged a gap in both teams' seasons between the end of the Rugby Championships, which New Zealand won for the second straight year, and the All Blacks and Wallabies tours to Japan, Britain and Europe.
New Zealand had already won the three-test Bledisloe Cup series by beating the Wallabies twice during the Rugby Championships and, with the impending tours and players keen to avoid injury, the defensive intensity of Saturday's match was low. The five tries and 67 points scored gave the match the flavor of a festival game, but it was fast-paced and action-packed.
New Zealand remained unbeaten in 2014, ahead of a tour on which it will play tests against Japan, France, England and Ireland.