Craig Lewis

Wallabies upset All Blacks

Israel Folau scores Israel Folau scores

Reece Hodge slotted a long-distance 78th-minute penalty as the Wallabies secured a shock 23-18 win over the All Blacks in Brisbane on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Although this game was effectively a ‘dead rubber’ in the sense that the All Blacks had already secured the Bledisloe Cup for the 15th successive year after two wins in the Rugby Championship, there was always going to be plenty, particularly for Australia, to play for.

Indeed, as it turned out, the Wallabies certainly appeared to be the more motivated side, and a passionate second-half performance enabled them to end a seven-match losing streak against the All Blacks.

The All Blacks came into this clash without flyhalf general Beauden Barrett, and his replacement Lima Sopoaga made an inauspicious start to proceedings when his loose pass was snapped up by Hodge, who darted 70m to score early on.

It characterised a rather scrappy opening quarter from the All Blacks in wet conditions, although they did manage to hit back when a beautiful bullet pass from Aaron Smith put winger Waisake Naholo away to score in the 14th minute.

Sopoaga slotted the touchline conversion and continued to make up for his earlier error when he then knocked over a long-distance penalty as the visitors slowly began to establish some ascendancy.

The All Blacks pivot added another three-pointer soon after, but the Wallabies would cut the deficit to just a solitary point at the break when Israel Folau finished off a well-worked try with the final play of the half.

That score appeared to reignite the Wallabies’ belief in securing a rare victory over New Zealand, and that was reflected in a dominant third quarter as the hosts camped in opposition territory, while the Kiwis were guilty of conceding a string of penalties.

That pressure was duly rewarded with points when big winger Marika Koroibete powered over in the corner just before the hour mark, while Hodge slotted a long-distance penalty to open up a handy seven-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

The All Blacks would ensure a nervy finish for Australia when star winger Rieko Ioane scored in the 71st minute, although Damian McKenzie failed to convert the touchline conversion.

Hodge then stepped up to slot another crucial penalty that sent the Wallabies into a five-point lead, and in the dying stages, their outstanding defence thwarted one final All Blacks attack.

Wallabies – Tries: Reece Hodge, Israel Folau, Marika Koroibete. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalty: Reece Hodge (2).
All Blacks – Tries: Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane. Conversion: Lima Sopoaga. Penalties: Sopoaga (2).

Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight.

All Blacks – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 David Havili.

Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

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