Beauden Barrett scored a record four tries as the All Blacks withstood a tense first-half before running away in a 40-12 victory over Australia at Eden Park on Saturday, as the hosts retained the Bledisloe Cup with a game to spare.

Australia‘s media wasted little time in pointing the blame at Wallabies coach Michael Cheika after seeing them sink to a sixth loss in seven games.

The 51-year-old former Leinster coach had a testy exchange with one Australian reporter post-match when questioned on his future.

“If you are naive enough to think that I‘m worried about myself here, then you don‘t know me at all,” said Cheika.

“The last person I‘m thinking about is me. I want Australia to play good rugby, and be the best it can be. So if you think that I‘m worried about myself then you‘ve never known me.”

It was a happier day at the office for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who can now look at resting some of his first-choice players against Argentina.

“You‘re always flexible in your thinking, but we‘ve got a plan in place, and we‘ve just got to trust everybody to do their jobs,” Hansen said. “You can‘t get sidetracked by results, and you‘ve got to understand what you‘re trying to do.

Plans

“We‘re very fortunate we‘ve got a strong squad and what will make it stronger is giving people game-time from time to time and trusting them.

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus was very forthcoming in his disappointment at losing the same opportunity to experiment following a 32-19 loss to Argentina in Mendoza.

“We had certain plans that we wanted to try against Australia, but that‘s out the window now,” he told reporters. “We have to get back to winning ways again, it‘s win at all costs now.”

Elsewhere, Paddy Jackson had a tough start to life with Perpignan as they were on the receiving end of a 46-15 thumping from Stade Francais, who had Paul O‘Connell on the sideline.

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The former Ulster fly-half did score a try, but it wasn‘t enough to prevent the heavy loss.

Simon Zebo‘s debut had a more pleasant outcome, as his Racing 92 side beat Toulon 25-9.

The former Ireland international started at full-back and played the full 80 minutes in an electric back three alongside Argentinian winger Juan Imhoff and All Blacks legend Joe Rokocoko, while fellow Munster man Donnacha Ryan also started for the French club.

Irish interest in this year‘s Top 14 includes former Munster and Ireland U-20 man Dave Ryan, who lined out for Agen as they suffered a heavy 67-23 defeat to Clermont.

Sean Dougall and Tipperary man Dave Foley featured for Pau in their 41-19 loss to Bordeaux.

Indo Sport