Wallabies improved but beaten in Bledisloe

New Zealand have retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 14th straight year after outclassing an improved Wallabies outfit 29-9 in Saturday’s second Test in Wellington.

Despite a vastly better performance than last week’s capitulation in Sydney, Australia never looked likely to win and could do little to stop the All Blacks once their irresistible catch-and-pass game clicked into gear.

The result brings Australia’s losing streak under Michael Cheika to six matches – one short of the seven defeats in 2005 that eventually led to the sacking of Eddie Jones.

A sold-out crowd of 35,372 was on hand at a windswept Westpac Stadium, where the Wallabies have not won for 16 years.

They began with clear intent but still fell down in key areas, coughing up three lineouts and struggling to contain the slick, polished world champions, missing 27 tackles to six.

Quade Cooper had a mixed showing in his first Test for almost a year and, as expected, was booed with nearly every touch.

The All Blacks weren’t as clinical as last week but were still far too good for Australia.

They led 15-9 at halftime but spent most of the second stanza in cruise control, with tries from Julian Savea and Sam Cane snuffing out any chance of an unlikely Australian comeback.

Winger Israel Dagg also crossed for a first-half double, his second try set up by a scintillating Beauden Barrett run.

The Wallabies barely had a sniff in attack with the All Blacks dominating possession and territory all night.

The closest they came was when Nick Phipps crossed in the dying moments but lost control of the ball as he tried to touch down.

Australia’s only scores were two penalties from Bernard Foley, plus a monster 52m effort from Reece Hodge, who was thrown into the mix earlier than expected after veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper went off with concussion in the 17th minute.

Two-Test lock Adam Coleman was also yellow-carded just before the interval for a late shoulder charge on Ben Smith.

The Wallabies will look to recover from what has been a nightmare fortnight when they face South Africa on September 10 in Brisbane.

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