The Wallabies finished the Bledisloe Cup series on a high with a 24-22 victory over the All Blacks in a game where both sides played with 14 men. DYLAN JACK reports.
With the win the Wallabies bounced back from two disappointing performances against the All Blacks, last week losing by a record margin of 38 points to the New Zealanders. However, back at the Suncorp Stadium, where they have not lost since June 2016, the Wallabies put in a massively improved performance to claim a memorable victory in Brisbane.
Both sides had to play most of the match with 14 men, after seeing a player each red-carded during the first half. The first red card was shown to All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi after a TMO review picked up that, during a tackle on Tom Wright, his shoulder met with the Australian wing’s chin. Remarkably, just 10 minutes later the Wallabies also lost a man as Lachlan Swinton put in a similar tackle on Sam Whitelock leaving referee Nic Berry with no choice but to produce the same punishment.
In a frenetic Test match the Wallabies opened the scoring when Reece Hodge chipped the ball over the All Blacks defence, which was gathered by fullback Tom Banks, who offloaded to Wright to score four minutes into his debut. There were plenty of questions pre-match over coach Dave Rennie fielding Hodge at flyhalf, but the Melbourne Rebels man acquitted himself very well and held his nerve to kick four penalties and what turned out to be the winning conversion.
Even though they were playing what was an effective dead rubber, the Wallabies looked a completely different team from last weekend. Rennie’s side was far more aggressive on defence, even if at times they lacked the accuracy to prevent the All Blacks from offloading.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster, meanwhile, should be concerned over his side’s lack of discipline, which along with an uncharacteristic lack of composure, ultimately cost them the Test match.
After conceding the early try, the All Blacks wasted no time in composing themselves and after a long period of pressure of 29 phases, the Wallabies dam wall broke when Laumape got around his tackler and offloaded to see Reiko Ioane level the scores in the corner.
The All Blacks finished the first half as the stronger of the two sides as they pressured the Australian line, resulting in them being reduced to 10 men when Marika Koroibete was shown yellow for a cynical foul at a breakdown after a team warning. However, the Wallabies vitally managed to turn over an All Blacks ball on their own tryline to go into the break deadlocked at 8-8.
Even more vital for the Wallabies was that they were able to survive Koroibete’s period in the sin bin without conceding and took the lead through Hodge’s second penalty.
That lead was short-lived as the All Blacks won a lineout near the Wallabies tryline and Codie Taylor was able to score from behind a driving maul.
It was then the All Blacks’ turn to play with 13 men as the TMO spotted that Scott Barrett had cynically slapped the ball out of scrumhalf Nic White’s hands at a breakdown, leading to a yellow card in the 68th minute.
That seemed to give the Wallabies the drive that they needed to push through the final 10 minutes as Hodge slotted another couple of penalties, before tighthead prop Taniela Tupou made a telling impact, twice breaking the All Blacks, before driving over from close range for the winning try.
The All Blacks would still have the final say, as replacement lock Tupou Vaa’i made a nervous finish by scoring in the 78th minute to make it 24-22. As the All Blacks looked to attack from their own 22-metre area, it was Koroibete who came up with the big play as he rushed up to make a telling tackle and force a handling error, allowing the Wallabies to kick the ball into touch.
Wallabies – Tries: Tom Wright, Taniela Tupou. Conversion: Reece Hodge. Penalty: Hodge (4).
All Blacks – Tries: Rieko Ioane, Codie Taylor, Tupou Vaa’i. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (2). Penalty: Jordie Barrett.
Wallabies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lachlan Swinton 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
All Blacks – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Cullen Grace, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Will Jordan.
Photo: Getty Images