It’s a case of as you were at the top of the World Rugby Rankings after the fourth round of The Rugby Championship produced home wins for newly-crowned Rugby Championship winners New Zealand and Australia.
The All Blacks remain on 96.30 points after their 41-13 defeat of South Africa in Christchurch, nearly seven points clear of second-placed England, as their seventh anniversary as the world's best team looms into view. New Zealand have enjoyed an unbroken run at the top of the rankings since 16 November, 2009.
New Zealand’s dexterity in attack killed off any hopes the Springboks had of inflicting a rare home defeat on their opponents, the All Blacks riding an early storm, as they seem to have done all year, before hammering home their dominance. Bryan Habana’s 66th international try only served to galvanise Steve Hansen’s side for whom hooker Dane Coles (main picture) was outstanding. Coles’ handling was akin to that of an outside back and the Wellington man set up three of his side’s six tries – all scored by different players – with killer passes.
WALLABIES INCH CLOSER TO ENGLAND
Australia, ranked third, closed the gap on England to just under four rating points thanks to their 38-20 win against Argentina in Perth earning them a fraction over half a rating point. Under the ranking points exchange system, Los Pumas lost the same amount of points as Australia gained but still hang on to seventh spot in the rankings, although there is only 18-hundredths of a point between themselves and the lower-ranked France.
The Wallabies scored three tries – doubling their tally for the competition in the process – to race into a 21-0 lead inside the first 11 minutes before withstanding a late fightback to register their second win in a week. Samu Kerevi, Dane Haylett-Petty and Will Genia all crossed early on as Australia set about their task with relish to lead 21-6 at the break. The sides then traded tries in a much more even second half, Genia getting his second after Santiago Cordero had given the visitors hope, before Michael Hooper cancelled out Facundo Isa’s effort.
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