Australia blown away by wind, rain and All Blacks

Rugby Union New Zealand 43 Australia
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The Independent Online
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The New Zealand coach, John Hart, could have been excused for gloating. His superbly drilled All Blacks had just completed a six-try destruction of the well-fancied Australian side but arguably the greatest wet-weather performance of all time still left a little room for improvement.

A smart, dapper man, Hart understandably realised the considerable impact of an almost faultless exhibition in miserable conditions at Wellington's quaintly ageing Athletic Park. "We were good, very good but we are a much more effective team in the dry," he admitted.

The daunting prospect of this New Zealand side performing to even greater levels of efficiency almost defies belief. Australia will clearly hope that Hart will be disappointed when the teams next meet in the fourth round of the inaugural Tri-Nations championship at Brisbane in three weeks' time.

They must already know that they offered precious little as the All Blacks tore into them in the face of a biting southerly wind and relentless rain.

New Zealand were always on course once Michael Jones had dived over in the third minute and further first-half tries from Christian Cullen - his eighth in just four appearances - Justin Marshall and Zinzan Brooke put the result beyond doubt before half-time.

Australia briefly rallied midway through the second half but could not find a way past the All Black defence and had to suffer as Jeff Wilson and, inevitably, Jonah Lomu, completed the rout.

Hart, however, was quick to give England and the rest of the northern hemisphere hope for the future. "I know a lot of people will look at this performance and wonder if other sides will be able to live with us," he said. "Maybe on this day it would have been difficult but I still don't believe there's such a huge gap between the northern and southern hemisphere sides.

"England and France, in particular, can beat anyone on their day. England have tremendous power, they just have to learn how to use it to their advantage. Once they learn how to compete under the new laws they will be a match for anyone.

"Scotland, too, can look forward with considerable hope. They performed well in their two Tests against us last month and their forwards certainly gave us a harder time than the Australians. They can take a lot of credit for that.

"This result and the way we played means a great deal. It must rank as one of our best ever performances but we must also realise that there is still much we can do. Our game against South Africa at Christchurch in a fortnight's time will be another hard, uncompromising challenge. We intend to be ready."

Scorers: New Zealand: Tries M Jones, Cullen, Marshall, Z Brooke, Wilson, Lomu; Conversions Mehrtens (2); Penalties Mehrtens (3). Australia: Penalties Burke (2).

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen (Manawatu); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce, W Little (North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens, J Marshall (Canterbury); C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown, I Jones (North Harbour), R Brooke (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago), M Jones, Z Brooke (Auckland). Replacement: N Hewitt (Southland), for Fitzpatrick, 71.

AUSTRALIA: M Burke; D Campese (New South Wales), J Roff (Australian Capital Territories), T Horan, B Tune (Queensland); S Bowen, S Payne (New South Wales); D Crowley, M Foley (Queensland), R Harry (New South Wales), J Eales (capt), G Morgan (Queensland), M Brial (New South Wales), D Wilson (Queensland), O Finegan (Australian Capital Territories),

Referee: E Morrison (England).

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