Auckland – As the Wallabies licked their wounds on their return flight to Sydney on Sunday, captain Michael Hooper vowed they would bounce back from their thrashing by the All Blacks.
He also won support from victorious All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who described the Australians as having an “off-night” when his world champions scored a record 51-20 victory over their Tasman neighbours in Auckland on Saturday.
The All Blacks scored six tries and led 44-6 late in the match before yielding two soft tries to the Wallabies to distort the scoreline.
Despite the Wallabies showing little fight just a week after holding the All Blacks to a 12-12 draw in Sydney, Hooper said they would come back in the remaining Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa and Argentina.
“It’s not a broken thing. We’re not a broken entity,” he said. “There’s some good things there that we can take, and then there’s some things that need serious improvement in these games.
“To learn how to win the big moments and capitalise on mistakes that the other team make, something the All Blacks are very good at.”
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie rated the performance a “disappointing effort” in which they failed to threaten the All Blacks.
“We can’t sit here and pretend anything other than we didn’t perform up to our expectations. We’d come off a bunch of wins, this is a really disappointing loss for us,” he said.
“They played well, no question, but I know we’re better than that, that’s why it was a frustrating night.”
The All Blacks monstered the Wallabies from the kick-off, and the visitors struggled to stay in touch through the first quarter before dropping right out of contention when lock Rob Simmons was yellow-carded.
During Simmons’ 10 minutes in the sin-bin, the All Blacks piled on 14 points with two converted tries as they raced to a 23-6 lead by half-time.
They added a further three converted tries in the third quarter as they demolished the Wallabies pack then stretched them wide, frequently breaking the first line of defence.
“What pleased me tonight about our start was we showed an intensity we didn’t have the week before, our defence really set the tone, made some big tackles and it was more than what Australia expected,” Hansen said.
“Australia are a very good rugby side and (this) probably doesn’t reflect that and they’ll bounce back. They just had a bad day at the office, which can happen. We’ve seen before ourselves have one and bounce back the next week.” – Sapa-AFP