Wallabies clinch thrilling Bledisloe triumph
July 26, 2008
Wallaby lock James Horwill crashes over to score
© Getty Images
A superb peformance from Australia carried them to a thrilling 34-19 victory over New Zealand in their Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup clash at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
The worst fears of All Blacks fans came true when coach Robbie Deans guided the Wallabies to a stunning 34-19 win in the Bledisloe Cup rugby opener at ANZ Stadium here tonight. Before a crowd of 78,944, the Wallabies showed more passion and defended ferociously against an error-ridden All Blacks, scoring four tries to three and riding home on the boot of standout first five-eighth Matt Giteau's 14 points.
It was the first time the All Blacks had lost consecutive tests since 2004, and put a serious dent in their hopes of extending their five-year Bledisloe Cup tenure and winning a fourth straight Tri-Nations title. The result was a triumph for Deans who was passed over for the All Blacks job and extended his unbeaten streak to five for the Wallabies, who had lost six of their previous seven tests against Graham Henry's All Blacks.
The match was well poised with the All Blacks, inspired by their standout pivot Dan Carter in his 50th test, leading 19-17 with 30 minutes to go but the Wallabies stormed home. The visitors couldn't respond in a messy final quarter as they dropped plenty of ball and the Wallabies grew in confidence.
After impressive flanker Rocky Elsom raced 15m to score to reclaim the lead, a Giteau dropped goal extended the lead to eight points before young lock James Horwill sealed it with a try six minutes from time. The Wallabies flew into their work early, with big defence and muscular work at the breakdown led by replacement captain George Smith leaving the All Blacks rattled as injured captain Richie McCaw looked on from the stands.
The hosts led 17-5 after half an hour as the visitors tried to keep the ball in hand but made simple errors under pressure which continued for much of the game. Their cause wasn't helped by lock Brad Thorn, returning from a one-match suspension for a spear tackle, being sinbinned by referee Craig Joubert in the sixth minute for a high tackle on Giteau.
Giteau goaled the penalty then four minutes later the Wallabies took toll, Ryan Cross scoring from an overlap in his first run-on test when Lote Tuqiri ran back an errant Mils Muliaina kick and beat three tackles. It took a length-of-the-field effort from Muliaina to get the All Blacks underway, sparked from 90m out by the fullback who chipped through and handled three times in the movement.
A try by winger Peter Hynes from a Wallabies chip and chase looked set to give them a handy halftime buffer but the All Blacks struck a crucial blow one minute before the break when hooker Andrew Hore dashed 15m through three tacklers to score after a quick tap.
Carter did his best to haul up his stuttering side, a magical break through Giteau and Berrick Barnes setting up a try to halfback Andrew Ellis, with Carter's conversion giving them a 19-17 lead. An indifferent Ellis was substituted by Jimmy Cowan who saved a Wallabies try when he dived on loose ball at Tuqiri's feet, 5m out. But from the next play, Elsom took off through some tired All Blacks defence to score and reclaim the lead which they never relinquished.
There was controversy when Cowan lay injured and was replaced by Ellis, but assistant referee Marius Jonker pointed out Ellis could only return for a blood bin. It meant Cowan had to return to the field later as the All Blacks limped home.
"I am not alone in believing this series could well be decided by who can steal most ball after the tackle." John Taylor previews the Lions' first Test showdown with Australia
"You can keep your Bullitt and French Connection car chases, this was the real thing." Tom Hamilton files his latest Tour Diary from Australia
"O'Driscoll's generosity says so much about the man and the team spirit that Gatland has fostered within the squad." Graham Jenkins reflects on what the Lions' latest win told us
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the British & Irish Lions tour and a feast of international rugby taking centre stage