Otago Daily Times

Clarke shines as NZ as­serts author­ity

RUGBY Bledis­loe Cup

- All Blacks ................................ 27 Wal­la­bies ................................. 7 Sports · Rugby · New Zealand · Wellington, New Zealand · Australia · Auckland Region · New Zealand national rugby union team · Australia national football team · Australia national rugby union team · Beauden Barrett · Jordie Barrett · Ardie Savea · Eden Park · James O'Connor · Richie Mo'unga

WELLINGTON: Winger Caleb Clarke pro­duced a stun­ning per­for­mance of power run­ning in his first test start to pro­vide some much needed at­tack­ing thrust as New Zealand beat Aus­tralia 27­7 in the sec­ond Bledis­loe Cup test at Eden Park in Auck­land yes­ter­day.

The au­thor­i­ta­tive win erased mem­o­ries of a 16­16 draw in the first game last week and also gave the All Blacks the ad­van­tage in re­tain­ing the Bledis­loe Cup, which they have held since 2003, as the se­ries moves to Aus­tralia for the fi­nal two matches.

The pres­sure on All Black coach Ian Foster was no doubt al­le­vi­ated a lit­tle with the re­sult, which was played in front of a crowd of 46,049 af­ter Auck­land moved to Alert Level 1 ear­lier this month.

``He is a spe­cial player and a spe­cial kid,'' All Black cap­tain Sam Cane, who scored his side's fi­nal try, said of the 21­year­old Clarke. ``He didn't let any­one down.''

Clarke's abil­ity to break tack­les was helped by a far bet­ter per­for­mance from the All Blacks for­wards, who had been crit­i­cised for a lack of in­ten­sity last week.

Some long­stand­ing is­sues of at­tack­ing pen­e­tra­tion against an ag­gres­sive de­fence were also laid bare in Wellington, which only in­creased the pres­sure on Foster.

The All Blacks, how­ever, rarely have suc­ces­sive poor per­for­mances and the Wal­la­bies were well aware that af­ter their 47­26 record vic­tory last year in Perth they were thrashed 36­0 in Auck­land the fol­low­ing week.

``They were bet­ter this week,'' Wal­la­bies cap­tain Michael Hooper said af­ter yes­ter­day's re­sult in which the All Blacks con­ceded only a first half­try to Marika Koroi­bete.

``They got the bet­ter of us . . . and were very good in turnover and cap­i­talised on our mis­takes.''

The Wal­la­bies put the All

Blacks un­der enor­mous early pres­sure be­fore the home side started win­ning col­li­sions and in­creased the pace of the game and be­gan to break tack­les, full­back Beau­den Bar­rett and Clarke mak­ing sev­eral strong runs.

Richie Mo'unga slot­ted a 19th­minute penalty as the ter­ri­to­rial pres­sure told be­fore half­back Aaron Smith scored a try four min­utes later from an at­tack­ing scrum.

Mo'unga con­verted to give the All Blacks a 10­0 ad­van­tage be­fore the Wal­la­bies again showed how dan­ger­ous they can be with the ball in hand when Koroi­bete crossed af­ter a turnover and James O'Con­nor's con­ver­sion nar­rowed the gap to 10­7.

Clarke was then the cat­a­lyst for tries within the space of three sec­ond­half min­utes to Jordie Bar­rett and Ardie Savea with two pow­er­ful runs, the sec­ond in which he bounced out of sev­eral tack­les, to give the home side a 20­7 lead.

Some su­perb de­fence by Mo'unga stopped Koroi­bete from scor­ing his sec­ond try shortly af­ter, be­fore hooker Bran­don Paenga­Amosa had a try over­turned by ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner.

Cane fin­ished off a sweep­ing move­ment less than 90 sec­onds later to give the home side a 27­7 lead that ended the Aus­tralian chal­lenge.

``We put a marker down and that has to be the base now, [be­cause] this is [the best] Wal­la­bies team I have seen in a while,'' Foster said.

``They stay in the fight and we need to fight for 80 min­utes.’’ — Reuters

 ?? PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES ?? Putting the ham­mer down . . . All Black wing Caleb Clarke charges past Wal­laby coun­ter­part Marika Koroi­bete in the sec­ond Bledis­loe Cup test in Auck­land yes­ter­day.
PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES Putting the ham­mer down . . . All Black wing Caleb Clarke charges past Wal­laby coun­ter­part Marika Koroi­bete in the sec­ond Bledis­loe Cup test in Auck­land yes­ter­day.
 ??  ?? Sam Cane
Sam Cane

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