The world champion All Blacks rebounded spectacularly to down the Wallabies 54-34 and plunge Australian rugby further into despair in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney on Saturday.
It was New Zealand’s biggest score over Australia, eclipsing their 51-20 win in Auckland three years ago and puts them well on the way to holding on to the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.
New Zealand’s inability to put away the British and Irish Lions in their drawn home series last month had raised doubts whether the All Blacks’ era of dominance was on the wane.
But the All Blacks roared back to outclass the Australians eight tries to four in a dynamic performance.
While the Wallabies added some respectability to the final score after trailing 54-6 with four tries in the final half-hour the contest was well and truly over after the first 50 minutes.
While it was a dominant Test for the All Blacks it plunged Australia rugby further in the gloom after a woeful Super Rugby season where Australian teams lost all their 26 games to New Zealand opposition.
It was played before the lowest Bledisloe Cup Test crowd at Sydney’s Olympic stadium of 54,846.
The All Blacks demoralised the tackle-shy Wallabies with a six-try opening half to have the game wrapped up by half-time after a 40-6 landslide.
While the Australians looked promising in attack they were clueless in defence with the world champions looking capable of scoring in every attacking phase.
The Wallabies left the field to stunned silence with their already tenuous Bledisloe Cup hopes in tatters with the All Blacks at home in the potentially deciding game in Dunedin next week.
The All Blacks scored their first try with quick passes from skipper Kieran Read and winger Rieko Ioane to give blindside flanker Liam Squire a clear run to the try-line.
Bernard Foley kicked the Wallabies to trail by a point with a 17th-minute penalty after the All Blacks scrum was penalised.
But the All Blacks again found a way through the Australian defence when left-winger Ioane got on the outside of floundering Israel Folau to score for a 12-6 lead midway through the half.
Ioane was over again minutes later when Michael Hooper’s pass went astray and Ryan Crotty sent Ioane racing away between the posts.
The Wallabies defence was shredded again and Crotty scored an easy try near the posts after Beauden Barrett handled twice in the lead-up.
The New Zealanders claimed their fifth try just before half-time when Sonny Bill Williams crashed over and Barrett’s conversion stretched the world champions’ lead to 33-6.
The All Blacks made a mockery of the threadbare Australian defence with a sixth try off a training ground move and a double to centre Crotty after a scrum win deep inside the Wallabies’ territory.
Barrett’s conversion gave the All Blacks an impregnable 40-6 lead at half-time.
It got no better with fullback Damian McKenzie scoring his first Test try three minutes after the resumption and Barrett’s sixth conversion extended the lead to 47-6.
Winger Ben Smith’s try hoisted the All Blacks to their highest ever score against the Wallabies 54-6 and with still 30 minutes left in the one-sided Test.
Debutant winger Curtis Rona finally scored Australia’s first try after 52 minutes and further tries to replacement Tevita Kuridrani and a runaway from Kurtley Beale gave the home supporters something to cheer.
Israel Folau crossed for Australia’s fourth try 11 minutes from the end.
The All Blacks continued their domination of the Wallabies and have lost only three of their last 30 encounters.