All Blacks clean sweep Wallabies
New Zealand has continued it's stranglehold over Australia in the Bledisloe Cup, clean sweeping their trans-Tasman Rivals 3-0 with a 38-21 win at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
New Zealand were never seriously under any scoreboard pressure in Perth, unlike they had been for patches of the first two Tests, as a bumbling Wallabies side suffering the indignity of a series clean sweep - the 18th time the All Blacks have achieved the feat.
Back-rower Akira Ioane was outstanding for the visitors on an afternoon when New Zealand were forced to deal with the loss of Jordie Barrett, who was red-carded for a boot to the face of a chasing Marika Koroibete.
But just as they had done in Auckland three weeks ago when they masterfully managed Ardie Savea's yellow card, the All Blacks this time came out from the 20-minute stretch when they were down to 14 men five points better off than when it had started.
Barrett's dismissal will be debated in the days ahead, though both Dave Rennie and Ian Foster agreed the presence of the red-card replacement on this occasion was worthwhile.
What there is absolutely no debating is the clear gulf in class between the two teams. And just how much work Rennie has to do if he's to make his side competitive with the Springboks, whom lie in wait on the Gold Coast next week.
Australia continue to cough up simple opportunities by undoing their good work, more often than not with a poor pass or attacking decision, or a breakdown cleanout that was at times just woefully ineffective in Perth.
While the Wallabies very nearly scored the first try of the match, they were utterly dreadful in the first half thereafter. Koroibete had two five-pointers scrubbed off by the TMO, both technically correct, while the All Blacks ran in two tries of their own, the first a brilliant attacking sequence that started with a Beauden Barrett grubber picked up by Will Jordan and put through the hands of Brad Weber to Jordie Barrett to cross under the sticks.
But it was George Bower's try from the rolling maul just before halftime that was the bigger blow, particularly given the Wallabies had a one-man advantage at that point.
Australia had otherwise fumbled their way through the first 40 with a woefully ineffective breakdown and an inability to break through the All Blacks' defence.
The visitors were ruthless to capitalise on any tackle contest that Australia was slow to, or the first arriving players had missed the initial hit, then jumped on the ball to win the turnover or earn a penalty from referee Damon Murphy, of which there were many.
The All Blacks weren't perhaps at their best without Aaron Smith's crisp delivery, but they were still able to punish Australia's mistakes. They included a fourth and fifth runaway intercept tries for the series, after Akira Ioane had produced one of his many devastating runs to put Will Jordan over to quickly snuff out any chance of a genuine momentum shift following Folau Faingaa's try.
Australia's first intercept culprit in Perth was Matt Philip, the lock passing blind to his outside for David Havili to pinch possession and sprint 80 metres for the try. The second came via TJ Perenara, who picked off an inside pass from Rob Valetini just as the Wallabies looked to threaten, the veteran halfback then tore upfield and dropped a cross-field kick for George Bridge to score.
The Wallabies can take some positives in the continued development of Tate McDermott, who again opened up the All Blacks through the middle of the paddock, while they also received good injections off the bench from Pete Samu, Angus Bell and Nic White. Samu, in particular, perhaps offers some point of difference for Rennie moving forward, a back-rower who may be able to mirror some of the impact of Akira Ioane.
Samu Kerevi was solid in midfield in his first Test in close to two years, and who knows how different the game might have been had the inside centre been behind the ball at the ruck before he split the All Blacks through the middle and put Koroibete away, eventually to no avail.
New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th straight year, Australia left to lament another poor series against their arch rivals ahead of a meeting with South Africa next week on the Gold Coast as the Rugby Test Championship continues.
IMAGE: Perth Now.