Mitchell off as All Blacks swat Wallabies aside

Australia 28 New Zealand 49
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The Independent Online

The demolition job that Graham Henry's All Blacks are doing in the 2010 Tri-Nations was underlined by this seven-tries-to-three mauling of the Wallabies in Melbourne.

New Zealand are playing a game beyond the understanding of South Africa and Australia. They will regain the Tri-Nations trophy, not to mention the Bledisloe Cup, if they beat the Wallabies in Christchurch on Saturday. For Robbie Deans, that would represent a disastrous ninth successive defeat by New Zealand.

The Australia coach, who is a New Zealander, said: "Pressure? Of course I feel the pressure. It's part of the territory. Your heart-rate goes up but you go back to work. We have an opportunity next week so you keep going and try to find some solutions."

The All Blacks played what Henry called "scintillating rugby". They built a 32-14 half-time lead, the bonus point for four tries being secured in 35 minutes, and a second yellow card for the Australia wing Drew Mitchell, three minutes after half-time, settled the match. Mitchell was sent to the sin-bin by the South African referee, Craig Joubert, after 27 minutes for an illegal charge. The New Zealand prop Owen Franks was also sent to the sin-bin in the first half. When Mitchell later knocked the ball away from a New Zealander, to prevent a quick throw-in, he was off.

Deans said: "The sending-off was obviously damaging. We suffered the consequences. Drew's action was costly and, at that point, the game at this level becomes a bit of a nonsense."

Joubert had issued a warning to both captains six minutes before the break. He was not happy with players preventing quickly taken free-kicks or penalties and he warned: "The next person that does it will be yellow-carded."

Surprisingly, the Wallabies played their best rugby after Mitchell's departure. Stung into action, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom scored tries to add to Mitchell's seventh-minute effort, which had come from a charged-down kick by Dan Carter. However, New Zealand were quicker and more incisive. They understand that the game is now decided at the tackle and they played with irresistible power and authority in that phase. Such play set up first-half tries for Carter, after he had charged down Berrick Barnes's kick; Mils Muliaina (who later scored a second); Richie McCaw, from a ghastly Wallaby error; and Corey Jane. Joe Rokocoko and Corey Flynn scored in the final quarter.

This was New Zealand's second- highest score against Australia. You have to go back to 1936 for the last time they scored so many tries against their rivals from across the Tasman Sea.

Henry said: "We are very pleased with the way the guys played. To score seven tries against Australia in Australia is a great performance."

Australia A Ashley-Cooper; J O'Connor, R Horne (K Beale, 56), B Barnes, D Mitchell; M Giteau (A Faingaa, 77), W Genia (L Burgess, 76); B Robinson, S Moore (S Faingaa, 47), S Ma'afu (J Slipper, 59), D Mumm, N Sharpe (R Simmons, 47), R Elsom (capt), R Brown, D Pocock.

New Zealand M Muliaina; C Jane (I Dagg, 75), C Smith, M Nonu (A Cruden, 71), J Rokocoko; D Carter, J Cowan (P Weepu, 33); T Woodcock, K Mealamu (C Flynn, 71), O Franks (B Franks, 44), B Thorn (S Whitelock, 56), T Donnelly (V Vito, 72), J Kaino, K Read, R McCaw (capt).

Referee C Joubert (South Africa).