Dagg at the double as All Blacks retain Bledisloe Cup


Israel Dagg scored two first-half tries as New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 14th consecutive year by beating Australia 29-9 at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

The All Blacks inflicted a humiliating 42-8 drubbing on their Trans-Tasman rivals in the opening game of the Rugby Championship in Sydney last weekend and were too strong for the Wallabies once again in Wellington.

Michael Cheika's men came in for stinging criticism following their mauling on home soil and gave a better account of themselves seven days later, but never looked like claiming a first win in New Zealand since 2001.

Dagg went over twice in the opening 40 minutes, with Julian Savea and Sam Cane dotting down after the interval and the impressive Beauden Barrett scoring nine points with the boot for the world champions.

Two Bernard Foley penalties and one from Reece Hodge - who replaced the injured Adam Ashley-Cooper in the first half for his maiden appearance - before the break was all Australia could muster.

Australia came out with plenty of aggression, but the All Blacks were in front eight minutes in when Dagg was left with a simple finish after taking a pass from debutant Anton Lienert-Brown following an incisive break from Aaron Smith.

Barrett added the extras and the influential fly-half slotted over a penalty to make it 10-3 after Foley, starting at number 12 in the absence of the injured Matt Giteau, got the Wallabies on the board from the tee.

Hodge came on to make his Australia bow when Ashley-Cooper took a blow to the head and was unable to return before Foley landed another penalty, but Dagg darted inside all too easily to go over again after plucking a pass from pivot Barrett 

A magnificent Hodge penalty from over 50 yards out reduced the deficit to 15-9 and the Wallabies made it through to half-time at that score after Adam Coleman was sent to the bin for a late shoulder charge on Ben Smith. 

The All Blacks were not having things all their own way, but cut through Australia again when playmaker Barrett whipped a fine pass to Ben Smith and the full-back gave Savea the chance to finish clinically in the corner.

Barrett converted expertly and added another two points from the tee after Cane crashed over four the All Blacks' fourth try following a period of intense pressure.

The recalled Quade Cooper was unable to pull the string at fly-half for Australia, who were no match for Steve Hansen's men and were denied a consolation try in the last minute when Nick Phipps spilled the ball.