The All Blacks have bounced back in emphatic fashion, celebrating skipper Richie McCaw’s world record Test appearance by overwhelming the Wallabies 41-13 in Auckland.
It was McCaw’s 142nd cap, and he got a standing ovation from the capacity crowd 48,450 crowd when he was substituted with 13 minutes to go.
The result on Saturday night also meant New Zealand lifted the Bledisloe Cup for the 13th successive season, after the trophy had been in danger of crossing the Tasman through Australia’s 27-19 win in Sydney.
Coach Steve Hansen said the disappointment from that defeat could be felt during the build-up.
“There was more physicality in everything we did during the week,” he said.
“Tonight, before the game you could just about chop the air in the changing shed up. There was plenty of edge there.”
Hansen said the difference at Eden Park was the All Blacks’ go-forward.
“It’s probably the key principle about the game,” he said.
“Last week we tried to go from side to side and didn’t earn the right to do that because we didn’t go forward first.”
The All Blacks, who ran in five tries, blew the contest open by scoring three of them in six minutes early in the second spell.
The first was a penalty try after a high tackle by Wallabies first five-eighth Quade Cooper, who was yellow-carded for the challenge on halfback Aaron Smith.
With a man down, the Wallabies conceded two twice more.
All Blacks first-five Dan Carter, whose display seven days ago had come under the spotlight, replied with a strong performance and showed some of his running of old.
Others of the All Blacks’ experienced brigade also stood out, including the midfield pairing of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu.
The All Blacks weathered a shaky opening quarter before going ahead with a long-range try that featured a break by Carter and a 40-metre finish by hooker Dane Coles.
They pulled further in front after half-time, with winger Nehe Milner-Skudder the catalyst.
His quick feet took him through the defensive line and he produced a deft offload to Aaron Smith, who was hit high by Cooper just out from the line.
It was Milner-Skudder’s kick-ahead that began the counterattack that lead to the first of Nonu’s two tries.
Conrad Smith then dotted down, before Nonu completed his brace.
There was a late consolation for the Wallabies with fullback Israel Folau, who was brilliant under the high ball all night, collecting an opposition cross-kick and running away to touch down.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the issue was that his side didn’t improve from last week, whereas the All Blacks had.
Of Cooper’s yellow card, he said he felt the player was trying to pull off a try-saver rather than intentionally going high.
Cheika defended the performance of Cooper, whom he had recalled to the starting line-up.
“I think he put us in good position early on and made some good plays and led us around the park well until he had to leave the field.”