Brief descriptions of matches in New Zealand’s run of 18 test wins:
2016 Match 18 (Oct. 22) v Australia, Auckland 37-10
A 50-minute challenge from an improved Australia could not prevent the All Blacks from locking up the record 18th victory at their Eden Park fortress.
Julian Savea scored two tries and Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, TJ Perenara and Dane Coles also crossed as the hosts started and finished strongly.
Match 17 (Oct. 8) v South Africa, Durban 57-15
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The All Blacks ignored the furore around disgraced scrumhalf Aaron Smith and tore apart a limited Springboks side with 45 points in the second half as they scored nine tries overall, with TJ Perenara, Israel Dagg and Beauden Barrett grabbing two each. Smith was sent home after he was suspended for one game following a tryst with an unknown woman in a public toilet at Christchurch Airport last month.
Match 16 (Oct. 1) v Argentina, Buenos Aires 36-17
Centres Anton Lienert-Brown and Ryan Crotty, hooker Dane Coles, scrumhalf TJ Perenara and fullback Ben Smith went over for New Zealand between the 28th and 45th minutes after they weathered pressure from the Pumas.
Match 15 (Sept. 17) v South Africa, Christchurch 41-13
Hooker Dane Coles gave a masterclass in backline playmaking to set up New Zealand tries for Israel Dagg, Julian Savea and Sam Whitelock as the world champions thrashed South Africa to secure the Rugby Championship title with two matches remaining.
Match 14 (Sept. 10) v Argentina, Hamilton 57-22
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck just when he needed to as the All Blacks scored three tries in 10 minutes in the second half to beat a combative Argentina. The All Blacks only led 24-22 with 30 minutes remaining before Barrett broke the game open to set up two of the home side’s five unanswered tries in the final half hour.
Match 13 (Aug 27) v Australia, Wellington 29-9
Israel Dagg scored two tries while flyhalf Beauden Barrett showcased his growing stature as the starting flyhalf with nine points from the boot while his all-round play drove his side around the field in a victory that retained the Bledisloe Cup for another year.
Match 12 (Aug. 20) v Australia, Sydney 42-8
A near-perfect first half demonstration of high-paced, high intensity rugby drove the All Blacks to a 32-3 halftime lead and ended any debate about how the transition from the World Cup winning side was progressing.
Match 11 (June 25) v Wales, Dunedin 46-6
A tired-looking Wales side, who had been playing or training for 54 weeks by the end of the tour, offered little second-half resistance to an experimental All Blacks side. Beauden Barrett cemented himself as the first-choice flyhalf with two tries, two penalties and five conversions.
Match 10 (June 18) v Wales, Wellington 36-22
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett used his explosive pace to rip apart the Welsh defence twice in five minutes in the second half. Barrett, who replaced the injured Aaron Cruden in the first half, broke the game open by setting up Ben Smith’s try then scored himself after Wales had fought back to 10-10 at halftime.
Match 9 (June 11) v Wales, Auckland 39-21
Waisake Naholo grabbed two tries and the bench proved the difference as Steve Hansen’s side began the post-McCaw/Carter/Nonu/Smith/Woodcock/Mealamu era with victory over a combative Welsh team. Warren Gatland’s side had looked like ending a 63-year losing streak with about 20 minutes remaining.
Match 8* (Oct 31) v Australia, London 34-17
Second half tries from Ma’a Nonu and Beauden Barrett sealed a third World Cup title. A drop goal and penalty from flyhalf Dan Carter eased New Zealand to a 10-point lead before Barrett’s searing pace ensured they became the first team to retain the Webb Ellis trophy.
Match 7* (Oct 24) v South Africa, London 20-18
Flyhalf Dan Carter kicked a perfectly timed drop goal after Jerome Kaino and Beauden Barrett had scored tries as the side ground down a physical Springboks side in pouring rain at Twickenham. The All Blacks dominated much of the game but Springboks flyhalf Handre Pollard’s boot kept his side in the match with five penalties before Patrick Lambie’s long-range penalty made the 2011 champions nervous.
Match 6* (Oct. 17) v France, Cardiff 62-13
Julian Savea scored a hat-trick of tries as the All Blacks demolished a France side who had been hoping to conjure ghosts of their 2007 quarter-final victory at the same venue. McCaw’s side, described by France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre as “the Brazilians of rugby”, ran in nine tries to record the biggest win in the knockout stages of the World Cup and the highest score ever conceded by France.
Match 5* (Oct. 9) v Tonga, Newcastle 47-9
Ma’a Nonu became the sixth player to earn 100 All Blacks test caps as they wore down a passionate Tongan side and scored five second half tries, two from Nehe Milner-Skudder. Flyhalf Dan Carter kicked six conversions, though stand-in captain Kieran Read eschewed kickable penalties as the team again tested their knock-out phase tactics.
Oct. 2 Match 4* (Oct 2) v Georgia, Cardiff 43-10
Waisake Naholo took just 73 seconds to notch the opening try on his return 10 weeks after breaking his leg, while Julian Savea grabbed a hat-trick as New Zealand became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals. It later transpired the coaches had devised a plan to test tactics they wanted to use in the tighter knockout games, which accounted for a lack of fluency.
Match 3* (Sept. 24) v Namibia, London 58-14
Wingers Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea scored two tries each as the team powered to a 58-14 win, although the rugged Africans made them work harder than expected and the biggest cheer odf the day came when Namibia’s Johan Deysel, a university student, scored a try for his side.
Match 2* (Sept. 20) v Argentina, London 26-16
Flyhalf Dan Carter kicked 16 points as the All Blacks had to dig deep to come from behind to beat a strong Pumas side. McCaw’s side trailed 16-12 until the 56th minute but scrumhalf Aaron Smith and loose forward Sam Cane tries sealed the win.
Match 1 (Aug. 15) v Australia, Auckland 41-13
Angry after being beaten 27-19 by the Wallabies the previous week in Sydney, the All Blacks silenced their critics with an emphatic second-half performance. Richie McCaw’s side scored 28 unanswered points after the break to humble a Wallabies team who had arrived Eden Park hoping to regain the Bledisloe Cup.
(*indicates Rugby World Cup matches)