The All Blacks produced a second-half blitzkrieg before conceding a string of late tries in a 33-25 win over Australia on a blustery night at Eden Park on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the Bledisloe Cup.
Unbeaten at the Auckland venue since 1994, Ian Foster’s side ran in three tries in a 13-minute burst after the break to kill off the contest with an awesome display of forward muscle and backline inspiration.
Wallabies full-back Tom Banks scored two late tries and Jordan Uelese grabbed another after the siren to give the visitors a flattering final scoreline.
The damage was done earlier as All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith celebrated his 100th test with a win and his team took a 1-0 lead in the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested by the trans-Tasman nations.
The All Blacks can seal the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th successive year with victory at the same venue next week, the clash doubling as the Rugby Championship opener.
Fly-half Richie Mo’unga scored an intercept try in an 18-point game, while Sevu Reece, David Havili and Damian McKenzie also crossed for the home side.
Australia held the All Blacks at bay for much of the opening quarter but conceded three quick penalties to trail 9-0 before the half-hour mark.
The Wallabies rallied through a majestic lineout move, with inside centre Hunter Paisami latching onto a long throw and passing wide to winger Andrew Kellaway who charged into the left corner for the first try in the 36th minute.
Noah Lolesio missed the conversion and the All Blacks responded fiercely. After shoving the Wallabies over their line in a maul, the All Blacks scored their first try on the stroke of halftime through winger Reece, with Mo’unga booting the conversion to stretch the lead to 16-8.
Five minutes after the restart, the Wallabies were relieved after what looked like a stunning length-of-the-field try to Reece was ruled out on video review when it confirmed Smith had hit Brodie Retallick with a forward pass.
The Wallabies then slumped in self-inflicted agony, as Lolesio missed a penalty and Mo’unga gleefully galloped 80 metres for an intercept try after a high-risk pass by Paisami.
The match was all but over before the fourth quarter, as the All Blacks’ forwards stormed towards the line and Smith flicked a bullet pass wide to inside centre Havili, who planted the ball over the line to put the home side 28-8 up.
Smith produced a near-carbon copy of Havili’s try, setting up full-back McKenzie in the same corner before the Wallabies’ late rally.