All Blacks hit highs in 54-34 win over Wallabies

New Zealand All Blacks player Sonny Bill Williams dives to score a try as Australian Wallabies players Curtis Rona and Henry Speight try to tackle him. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2017
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All Blacks hit highs in 54-34 win over Wallabies

SYDNEY: 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 demoralized 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 defense 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 penalized.
But the All Blacks again found a way through the Australian defense 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 defense was shredded again and Crotty scored an easy try near the posts after Beauden Barrett handled twice in the leadup.
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 defense with a sixth try off a training ground move and a double to center 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.


Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

Updated 20 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp

  • Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
  • Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru

Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.

Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)