• Wallabies, All Blacks draw in 88-minute match

    The Wallabies overturned a 10-point deficit in the second half as they played to a 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in Sunday’s drama-filled Bledisloe Test in Wellington. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

    In the first Test match since the Six Nations was suspended more than six months ago, this was a game that just about had it all, and produced one of the craziest finishes to an international match.

    After regulation time, Reece Hodge had an opportunity to win the match with a 60m penalty, with his long-range kick at goal hitting the upright and bouncing back into play.

    During a crazy final few minutes, the game would progress into the 89th minute. Yes, you read that correctly, the 89th minute!

    With neither side willing to accept a draw, they just kept on playing, and playing, and playing. It saw play move from one half to the other, and both teams ultimately miss the opportunity to perhaps set up match-winning drop goals.

    Yet, in the driving rain, a draw was probably the fair result.

    Almost exactly a year has passed since the All Blacks and Wallabies were in fact last in action at the 2019 World Cup, and in many ways it is the start of a new era for both sides under different head coaches.

    At the outset, it would have been the Wallabies who were the happier of the two sides as they made a purposeful and physical start to proceedings, but were initially left to rue an inability to capitalise on the scoreboard – adding just a solitary penalty in the first half.

    And to be fair, the All Blacks were far from their clinical, free-flowing best – with the one standout ‘highlight’ from the first half seeing Jordie Barrett produce a try-scoring finish to a sweeping movement.

    There was some controversy, though, when it became clear that the officials had missed Rieko Ioane placing his foot on the touchline in the buildup to the try. Yet, as fate would have it, Ioane then botched the grounding of the ball in what should have been a certain try just before half-time.

    The All Blacks would make up for it when Aaron Smith scored a superb try in the 44th minute, but the Wallabies hit back with a set-piece special of their own soon after for Marika Koroibete to score. It meant just five points separated the sides heading into the final quarter.

    The Koroibete try also shifted momentum well and truly back in favour of the Wallabies, and with James O’Connor looking dangerous, the flyhalf weaved his way into a good position before a piece of opportunistic play set up Filipo Daugunu for a try that drew the scores level.

    Not for the first time in the match, New Zealand suddenly looked devoid of ideas, and in the 74th minute they would be made to pay when O’Connor slotted a penalty and handed Australia the lead.

    The drama continued when the All Blacks then turned down a kickable penalty to set up a lineout in Australia’s 22. From the ensuing lineout maul, they won a penalty from right in front of the posts, and Barrett duly knocked over the penalty to leave the match all square.

    What followed could never be scripted, with the game just going on and on, until both sides finally had to settle for a draw.

    All Blacks – Tries: Jordie Barett, Aaron Smith. Penalties: Barrett (2).
    Wallabies – Tries: Marika Koroibete, Filipo Daugunu. Penalties: James O’Connor (2).

    All Blacks: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
    Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Caleb Clarke.

    Wallabies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Harry Wilson, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
    Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Reece Hodge.

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    Craig Lewis