The All Blacks have brought optimistic Wallabies fans crashing back to earth, thrashing Australia in the Bledisloe Cup opener.
Aussie fans were hoping this would finally be the year the Wallabies end New Zealand’s stranglehold on the Bledisloe Cup.
And their hopes were given a boost when the hosts took a 6-5 lead into half-time at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
However the World No.1 side showed their class in the second stanza, running in five-straight tries to score a 38-13 victory.
The Wallabies now face the daunting prospect of needing to win in Auckland next Saturday for the first time since 1986 to prevent the trophy staying in New Zealand for a 16th straight year.
“It was false hope,” Gordon Bray said in commentary at full-time.
Compounding Australia’s pain was a leg injury to superstar fullback Israel Folau, who cut a dejected figure as he hobbled off after 65 minutes after landing awkwardly from an aerial challenge.
Jack Goodhue made the most of his opportunity in the absence of Sonny Bill Williams, slotting in seamlessly and rising to the occasion after his fellow centre Ryan Crotty suffered an early injury.
Penalties from Reece Hodge and Bernard Foley gave the Wallabies a 6-0 lead, but Aaron Smith’s try on the stroke of half-time reduced the deficit to just a point.
The defending champions then turned on the style in the second half.
Goodhue and Beauden Barrett scored superb tries before Brodie Retallick went over and Waisake Naholo claimed a late double as Steve Hansen’s men ran away with it.
Barrett showed why he remains the All Blacks’ first-choice fly-half, pulling the strings in Sam Whitelock’s 100th appearance for the world champions.
Jack Maddocks marked his international debut by scoring Australia’s only try, but they were unable to pull off a repeat of their win over their trans-Tasman rivals last October.