A superb Tate McDermott try on the stroke of half-time left the Wallabies trailing 21-15 at the break with the belief they could create history.
But they switched off badly and the All Blacks pounced in the third quarter – similar to game one – to cruise to a 43-15 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Australia’s heaviest loss to New Zealand in 119 years was the 43-5 defeat in Sydney last year. Had Andrew Kellaway not crossed in the 69th minute, they might have topped that 38-point margin too.
Kellaway, who scored two tries, has been a shining light in his short Test career but this night belonged to New Zealand’s brilliant backs.
The Bledisloe bloodbath has become an all-too familiar story, one rewritten every year with the scores changed.
One could mount an argument that the Bledisloe Cup has lost its vitality. Sure, the Wallabies were dealt a rough hand having to play back-to-back matches at Eden Park, but the All Blacks are clearly a class above.
Even with a paltry crowd in Auckland, the hosts went to another level. Seldom do they play two bad games in a row and this was scary-good rugby.
Wallabies No.10 Noah Lolesio, coming off a bad night with the boot in game one, had a horrible start by throwing an intercept pass that Rieko Ioane picked off before running 75 metres to score.
Australia maintained their composure, built phases and kicked wide to Kellaway, who sidestepped his way around Damian McKenzie for a second try in as many games.
An 80-metre try finished by Brodie Retallick in the 24th minute was a big setback for the Wallabies, who had been matching their opponents’ intensity and physicality.
Australia’s backs threw the ball around and were audacious in the pursuit of a try but eventually Hooper took his medicine and pointed to the sticks as Lolesio reduced the deficit to six points.
New Zealand went in again, thanks to Ardie Savea, but Hooper was upset at referee Brendon Pickerill for not sending an All Blacks player to the bin after a cynical ruck infringement while the Wallabies were centimetres from the line.
Australia won a scrum penalty and New Zealand conceded another, before McDermott zipped through under the sticks to wrestle back momentum for the Wallabies.
Poor exits made life difficult for Australia on multiple occasions but their forward pack – in particular Hooper and new No.8 Rob Valetini – were immense.
Just after the break, Australia had a golden chance to go ahead, as Savea was sent to the bin, but Brandon Paenga-Amosa’s subsequent lineout wasn’t straight. After his woes in game one, it was a coach killer and a game changer.
Instead of potentially leading 22-20, in the blink of an eye the Wallabies were down 28-15 after Aaron Smith sliced through to put Codie Taylor in for a five-pointer.
“That was a big part of the game,” Rennie said. “That was a chance to ram it home.
“Disappointed we didn’t build on what we did in that first half. There is a number of men who emptied the tank prior to coming off. Pretty disappointed with the impact we got off the bench compared to the French series.”
New Zealand scored five second-half tries that could have invoked a mercy rule had there been one.
That’s what the All Blacks can do.
Now to a dead rubber in Perth in a fortnight, where the Wallabies won’t be able to offload the pressure tag to the Kiwis again.
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