NEW Zealand put down a daunting benchmark for this year’s Rugby Championship after easing to a 57-0 bonus-point victory over South Africa at North Harbour Stadium.
The crushing defeat was the first the Springboks had suffered in this year’s competition.
The All Blacks had started slowly in their last two matches and were out-muscled by the visitors in the early exchanges as Elton Jantjies hit the upright with a penalty, but it was one-way traffic once the hosts got on the scoreboard.
Beauden Barrett put New Zealand ahead with a penalty before quick intuition from scrum-half Aaron Smith led to the first try of the match when his quick tap and kick found Rieko Ioane to go over in the corner.
But New Zealand soon extended their lead to 17-0 with a sensational try after Nehe Milner-Skudder picked off a Jantjies pass to sprint away 70 metres before finding Barrett to his right. The fly-half returned the favour with a tremendous behind-the-back pass to the winger who touched down.
The All Black number 10 was in the thick of the action once more when his cross-field kick tried to find hooker Dane Coles. The ball was knocked on by Francois Hougaard and straight into the hands of substitute Scott Barrett for his second career New Zealand try to move 24-0 up with six minutes of the first half left.
There was still time for the hosts to get their fourth try before the half-time interval and collect their bonus point when Ioane sliced through the South Africa defence before playing in Coles to find Brodie Retallick and stroll in under the posts to lead 31-0.
It was not long before New Zealand crossed the whitewash again with Milner-Skudder grabbing his second of the match with a fine try in the corner in the 52nd minute before Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Lima Sopoaga and Codie Taylor dotted down to march past the half-century mark, with Beauden Barrett contributing 17 of the total.
AUSTRALIA claimed their first win of the 2017 Rugby Championship as they beat Argentina 45-20 in Canberra.
Israel Folau went over twice for the home side with Sekope Kepu, Nick Phipps, Will Genia and Jordan Uelese also scoring tries and Bernard Foley kicking 15 points.
Martin Landajo and Matias Moroni crossed for Argentina - who remain without a point after four games - with 10 points coming from the boot of Nicolas Sanchez.
Foley and Sanchez exchanged early penalties before Landajo went over for the Pumas after some excellent build-up work. The play went through several phases as Argentina got camped on the Wallabies’ try-line with Landajo crashing over before Sanchez added the extras.
The home side hit back just five minutes later as the ball was sent out to the right to Folau, who went over with Foley tying things up with the conversion.
A second Sanchez penalty gave Argentina a slender lead at the break, but that was as good as it was going to get for them, with Australia dominating the second 40 minutes.
Kepu dived over after some smart work from a scrum in the 50th minute and Folau followed him over four minutes later, with Foley converting both scores.
Argentina came back into the game but, when Enrique Pieretto was yellow-carded for a series of scrum infringements, the floodgates opened as first Genia from a scrum and then Phipps both scored converted tries inside three minutes.
Moroni chased down his own kick to grab a second converted score for Argentina with a minute to go, but when they kicked the ball straight out of play from the restart, the resulting line-out led to Uelese’s closing converted try.