RUGBY CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT -

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.

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