The All Blacks have retained the Bledisloe Cup with ease, smashing a disappointing Wallabies outfit 41-13 at Eden Park on Saturday night.
It was a disastrous night for Australia coach Michael Cheika, whose bold selections fell flat against the might of New Zealand, who dominated in almost every aspect to run away with the five-tries-to-one win.
Quade Cooper had a horror night, shown a yellow card for a high shot on Aaron Smith as the New Zealand scrumhalf charged towards the try-line in the 48th minute. Referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try, which gave New Zealand their second try of the night.
The All Blacks crossed twice more, through Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, while the enigmatic five-eighth was in the bin before he was replaced by Kurtley Beale – much to the chagrin of the 48,457-strong Eden Park crowd, who were all too happy to rub it in.
But Cooper and the rest of the Wallabies backs were behind a soundly-beaten forward pack, and could do little to stop the world champions once they settled into their groove.
The result adds another year to Australia’s long wait for the Bledisloe Cup and continues their miserable record at Eden Park, where they have not won since 1986.
It also poses a new range of questions to Cheika and the Wallabies staff ahead of the naming of Australia’s World Cup squad on Friday.
For New Zealand, it was an emphatic response to last week’s loss in Sydney and the perfect way to farewell six veteran stars – among them skipper Richie McCaw and Dan Carter – who were likely playing their last Test on home soil.
McCaw was playing in his 142nd Test which makes him the most capped international rugby player in history.
The Wallabies knew the opening minutes would be critical and made a suitably strong start, looking assured and confident as they took a 3-0 lead through a Cooper penalty.
But the hosts quickly wrested back control of proceedings, owning the set piece before showing in the 22nd minute just how small the margin for error is against the All Blacks.
Buried in their own territory, New Zealand absorbed all the pressure from a lengthy passage of Australian attacking play and then threw it straight back at them with a stunning 80m counter.
Hooker Dane Coles was the unlikely man who finished the move, unleashed through the middle by Dan Carter, who then converted to put the All Blacks 10-3 ahead.
Australia barely fired another shot in attack beyond that point, save for a 40m consolation try in the dying minutes to Israel Folau, which no player dared celebrate.