By Jack Tarrant
YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett scored 17 points as New Zealand completed a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep with a 37-20 win over Australia at the venue for the 2019 World Cup final on Saturday.
Flanker Liam Squire and captain Kieran Read crossed before the break to put the All Blacks in a commanding position and they piled on the points in the closing stages when Australia were a man down.
Australian replacement hooker Tolu Latu was sinbinned for striking his New Zealand counterpart Codie Taylor on 66 minutes and tries from outside backs Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane completed an emphatic victory.
New Zealand won the first two tests between the Trans-Tasman Sea rivals in the Rugby Championship in early August to be assured of retaining the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th straight year.
The Wallabies, with plenty to prove, exploded out of the blocks in front of 46,143 fans in Yokohama and almost scored in the second minute only for fullback Dane Haylett-Petty’s effort to be ruled out by the TMO.
After that, New Zealand took control, dominating possession and territory throughout the first half and opening the scoring on 11 minutes when Squire broke through Kurtley Beale’s tackle.
Australia looked dangerous with ball in hand but were plagued by errors, turning the ball over six times in the first half to New Zealand’s one and, as usual, the world champions made them pay.
After penalties apiece for Beale and Barrett, number eight Read peeled off the back of a scrum in the 36th minute and ran through Ned Hanigan’s tackle to extend New Zealand’s lead to 17-3.
The Wallabies hit back just before halftime when winger Sefa Naivalu barrelled clean through Barrett to score in the corner on the last play of the half.
Back in the game at 17-10, Michael Cheika’s team piled on the pressure early in the second half but they had to settle for an early penalty after lock Rob Simmons was held up under the posts.
It was then that Barrett took control of the contest, slotting his second penalty before linking up with Ioane to score the try of the match on the hour mark – his sixth against the Wallabies this year.
Already up against it, Australia’s hopes of getting back into the contest suffered a fatal blow when Latu was sin binned for a retaliatory swipe at Taylor.
Further tries from Ben Smith and Ioane, his 11th of the year and 22nd in 21 tests, either side of Israel Folau’s consolation score for the Australians wrapped up another comprehensive win for Steve Hansen’s men.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Nick Mulvenney)