Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup: All Blacks decimate hapless Wallabies to move to brink of title defence

The All Blacks have crushed the Wallabies 40-14 in their Bledisloe Cup rematch at Eden Park on Saturday to all but wrap up their defence of the Rugby Championship trophy.

Electric on counter-attack, resolute on defence, and - some wonky lineout throws aside - clinical across the park, the performance was arguably the best of Ian Foster's tenure as head coach, finally delivering the elusive 80-minute performance both he and the All Blacks faithful have so desperately craved.

The margin of victory means South Africa need to beat the Pumas by 40 points - including a bonus point - at Durban overnight to deny the All Blacks a second-straight title.

The Wallabies opened the door for the All Blacks early with their indiscipline, reduced to 14 players on two occasions during a first half where they quickly found themselves in a daunting 17-0 hole.

Outstanding stand-in captain Sam Whitelock's miraculous one-handed contortion to palm and place the ball in the tackle for the opening try of the second half essentially put the contest to bed, as the New Zealanders blew the scoreboard out to as high as 32-0, before some late strikes salvaged the Australians a few blushes.

Caleb Clarke makes a break.
Caleb Clarke makes a break. Photo credit: Getty

Some selection questions may also have been answered, albeit inadvertently. Jordie Barrett's superb display at midfield and his brother Beauden's equally impressive evening at fullback would have given the selectors food for thought.

Prop Tyrel Lomax was a menace all evening, as was his counterpart Ethan de Groot. Brodie Retallick was immense in the loose and the tight, while Whitelock somehow continues to improve after 140 test matches. Wing Caleb Clarke terrorised the Wallabies right-edge defence and was flawless under the high ball.

Coach Dave Rennie's and his players will be bitterly disappointed not to capitalise on the improvements they showed in Melbourne, with their 36th year of misery at Eden Park set to extend to a 37th.

Australia were on the backfoot early, when lock Jed Holloway was dealt a yellow card for taking Dalton Papali'i beyond the horizontal in a dicey ruck clear-out less than three minutes into the game.

The Wallabies managed to repel a series of raids by the All Blacks and limit the damage during Holloway's absence.

In fact, it took 21 minutes for the scoreboard to be called into action, with Richie Mo'unga slotting a close-range penalty.

But just two minutes later, the All Blacks swung back on the offensive and opened the try-scoring through Will Jordan, who was set free with a crafty second-man play and showed his defenders a clean pair of heels to accelerate through a half gap and dive in near the uprights.

The situation rapidly worsened for the Wallabies. Moments later, captain Sam Whitelock chose to turn down a gift three points in favour of a 5m linout and the decision paid off. 

Hapless in the face of a marauding rolling maul, the Wallabies were ruled to have collapsed intentionally and copped both a penalty try and a yellow card to hooker David Porecki.

Despite being at a man disadvantage, the Wallabies soon had their best chance of the match, as Marika Koribete dotted down in the corner, only for replays to reveal a foot into touch.

The All Blacks defence held on valiantly in the face of a few more try-line assaults and continued to back their counter-attack, resulting in some breathtaking expansive play.

With the contest teetering on the brink of getting out of hand, the Wallabies managed to hold on until halftime, leaving the field facing a 17-0 deficit which may - and probably should - have been worse.

As it turned out, danger time wasn't far away. Minutes into the second stanza, Whitelock scored one of the most unique tries you'll ever see, contorting his hand around his back with the ball palmed in an effort that initially appeared to be held up.

Moments later, the All Blacks engineered a textbook rolling maul try guided and claimed by Codie Taylor to blow the score out to 32-0.

Australia finally managed to cross on the hour mark, when Pete Samu's hopeful pass as he was bundled into touch found Folau Fainga'a to slide over.

Replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho entered the fray and made an instant impact, steering another clinical 5m lineout drive for the All Blacks' fifth try of the evening.

Replacement Jordan Petaia snuck in under the crossbar with time expired to claim a consolation try on a forgettable night for the Australians.

The All Blacks now have a month off before they reassemble to prepare for the annual year-end tour.

All Blacks 40 (Jordan, penalty try, Whitelock, Taylor, Taukei'aho tries; Mo'unga 2 con, 3 pen) Wallabies 14 (Fainga'a, Petaia tries; Foley, Hodge con).