AP Photo/Rick Rycroft In from the side: Richie McCaw shows Michael Hooper who's boss.
Bledisloe Cup

Aussie lambs to the slaughter as McCaw scores on All Blacks comeback

The Lions softened the Wallabies up. New Zealand went in for the kill.

RICHIE MCCAW WAS on the scoresheet on his return to the All Blacks side but the star of the show in a 47-29 win over Australia was Ben Smith.

The Highlanders winger scored a hat-trick of tries in Sydney to confirm a comprehensive New Zealand win over their oldest foes. Australia, led by new coach Ewen McKenzie, led 12-10 after 27 minutes but two tries in four minutes turned the tide.

Smith opened the five-point floodgates after two minutes when he dived over for an early try. Aaron Cruden converted and added a penalty on 19 minutes but Christian Leali’ifano’s four penalties gave the Wallabies the advantage.

It was Chiefs outhalf Aaron Cruden, fresh from a second Super rugby win with the Chiefs, that punctured the Australian challenge. His well-taken try on 28 minutes — stemming from a charge down of a Matt Toouma clearance attempt — fired the All Blacks and the bonus, converted points were just the beginning. Captain McCaw finished off a fine team move by crashing over in the righthand corner.

Aussie scrumhalf Will Genia struck back with a fine try, reminiscent of his break against the Lions in the First Test to set up Israel Folau, on 37 minutes. However, a Cruden penalty just before the break made it 25-17 at the break.

Smiths goes to work

Leali’ifano tagged back three points early in the second-half but New Zealand were in no mood for a comeback. The Smith show then did for McKenzie’s men. The always excellent Conrad dived over on 52 minutes after a sniping break from scrumhalf Aaron. Five minutes later and Ben Smith finished the home side off.

A sweeping move, involving deft hands and slick passing, swept the All Blacks back into the Australian 22 and Smith dotted down, on 57 minutes, for his second. Australia tried to battle back but the only score that materialised was another Cruden penalty.

Smith, the deserved man-of-the-match, put Australia out of their misery with seven minutes to go, streaking in from 30 metres out after the All Blacks turned the ball over in their opponent’s half. His hat-trick try was converted by Beauden Barrett.

The final say, or whimper, came courtesy of the beaten Wallabies as winger James O’Connor slipped through the AB defence unopposed to touch down.

Check out the highlights here:

YouTube credit: NZAUTV8

As injured Wallaby flanker David Pocock emark, via Twitter, at the final whistle, “All Blacks too good tonight. Credit to McCaw and his team. Class performance.”

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