New Zealand kick-start Bledisloe Cup with a 33-25 win

Richie Mo'unga contributed with 18 points
Richie Mo'unga contributed with 18 points
©Steve Haag

New Zealand 33-25 Australia, Eden Park

Richie Mo'unga contributed with 18 points as they kick-started the Bledisloe Cup contest with a 33-25 win over Australia at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

The two teams will meet once again at the same venue for next weekend for the second game of the series which will also be the opening encounter of the Rugby Championship before they head to Perth for the third game to be played in Perth on 28th August.

New Zealand had two forced changes ahead of the game as Patrick Tuipulotu replaced Scott Barrett, who was ill while Dane Coles was withdrawn due to a calf injury with Samisoni Taukei'aho taking his place on the bench.

As both teams were looking for an early advantage, the opening points came in the 18th minute when Mo'unga kicked a 60m penalty goal to get the All Blacks off the mark. Another scrum penalty from Australia allowed New Zealand to extend their lead with Mo'unga kicking another three-pointer to make it 6-0 by the 21st minute.

Around the half-hour mark, Wallabies were pinged for interfering on the ground with Mo'unga kicking another well directed penalty to make it 9-0 before an infringement from Brodie Retallick provided the Wallabies to open their account through a kick from Noah Lolesio.

The gap between the sides came down to one point when Hunter Paisami burst through the defence feeding Andrew Kellaway for the opening try in the 36th minute but Lolesio missed out on the conversion.

At the stroke of break, as they kicked a penalty to the corner and from the resulting line out it was Sevu Reece, who dotted down and Mo'unga was spot on with the conversion as the opening half ended with a 16-8 lead for the hosts.

Ian Foster's men extended their momentum in the second half when Mo'unga intercepted a pass between Paisami and Jordan Petaia to cross the whitewash and he also followed with the conversion making it 23-8.

It was total domination from New Zealand as their fourth try came with Aaron Smith sent a long pass to David Havili, who went over in the 58th minute and six minutes later Smith once again was the key as he offloaded for Damian McKenzie's try. Mo'unga missed both the conversions but New Zealand had a lead of 33-8.

Even though Tom Banks scored back to back tries in the 68th and 75th minutes, New Zealand went on to complete a comfortable 33-25 win as they look to maintain their Bledisloe Cup success having last lost the trophy in 2002.