Savea saves day for NZ

All Black Julian Savea being tackled by Australia's Henry Speight (centre), Bernard Foley (right) and Israel Folau during the third Bledisloe Cup Test at Eden Park. New Zealand won the trans-Tasman clash 37-10.
All Black Julian Savea being tackled by Australia's Henry Speight (centre), Bernard Foley (right) and Israel Folau during the third Bledisloe Cup Test at Eden Park. New Zealand won the trans-Tasman clash 37-10.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

All Blacks wing scores two late tries as New Zealand break record with 18th straight win

AUCKLAND • Julian Savea's stunning late burst ended Australian resistance as the All Blacks claimed a world-record 18th consecutive rugby Test victory with a crushing 37-10 win in the Bledisloe Cup yesterday.

It was hardly a vintage All Blacks performance and the tense game at Eden Park was not settled until Savea's game-breaking effort in the second half, when he scored two tries and set up a third.

There was also a controversial disallowed try to Henry Speight in the 45th minute, which left the Wallabies fuming.

But the ultimately convincing win rewrites the record books for Steve Hansen's side, who surpass the top-tier record winning streak of 17 set by the All Blacks of 1965-1969 and matched twice since.

"There was a lot of build-up during the week, obviously a lot of talk in the media and everything. I think it will sink in later on but I'm really stoked," said New Zealand captain Kieran Read.

"It took 30-odd minutes before we really opened them up so I'm really proud of the lads. Australia put us under pressure in certain areas. They played really well."

The All Blacks hit the front in the fifth minute when Israel Dagg scored and they never surrendered the lead, but for long periods Australia dictated terms and only stout defence earned the All Blacks their place in history.

They were only ahead 15-10 - after Australia had a try disallowed by the TV match official - and defending constantly with 25 minutes to play when Savea burst into life.

There were questions ahead of the game whether the Wallabies would prove giant-killers, having stymied the All Blacks three times in recent years when the record was on the cards.

But Bernard Foley missed two close-range penalties and a Speight try was disallowed when the TV official judged that Dane Haylett-Petty blocked Savea as he chased Speight.

Commentator Rod Kafer called for Nigel Owens to be banned from refereeing international rugby over the decision, while Australia's coach Michael Cheika was livid.

"He should never referee a Test match again," said Kafer. "That is disgraceful. There's no way he was going to catch him - that was the wrong decision."

For all their attacking flaws, sloppy discipline and rushed decision-making, the All Blacks scored six tries with Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, TJ Perenara, Savea (twice) and Dane Coles all crossing the line.

Aaron Cruden, brought off the bench early in the second half after Beauden Barrett missed the first three conversions, added seven points with the boot.

Rory Arnold scored Australia's only try with Foley adding a conversion and penalty.

The Test record caps a remarkable 12 months in which the All Blacks became the first team to successfully defend the World Cup, retained the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for a 14th consecutive year and won the Rugby Championship for the fourth time in five years.

Since Hansen took over as coach, the side have lost only three of 64 matches.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Savea saves day for NZ'. Print Edition | Subscribe