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Australia 18-18 New Zealand, Bledisloe Cup
Wallabies halt Kiwis' winning run with draw
ESPN Staff
October 20, 2012
Date/Time: Oct 20, 2012, 20:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Australia 18 - 18 New Zealand
Attendance: 52500  Half-time: 12 - 6
Pens: Beale, Harris 5
Pens: Carter 6
New Zealand's Dan Carter goes for a drop-goal, Australia v New Zealand, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, October 20, 2012
New Zealand's Dan Carter missed a drop-goal attempt with the last kick of the match
© Getty Images
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The All Blacks' 16-Test winning run came to an end with their clash against Australia in Brisbane finishing in an 18-18 draw.

Story of the Game

  • Man of the Match: Australia's Mike Harris was in imperial form at fullback and also kept the Wallabies' scoreboard ticking over with 18 points with the boot. Australia are in the midst of an injury crisis in just about every area of the field but Harris is a rare ray of sunlight for Robbie Deans' men.
  • Key Moment: It is perhaps harsh to judge a match on the last play of the game but Dan Carter's missed drop-goal at the death is what the match will be remembered for. He struggled with the boot throughout, although he contributed the Kiwis' 18 points, and it was his miss that is likely to make the headlines.
  • Hero of the Game: Nathan Sharpe turned in another 80 minutes for the green and gold despite being in the twilight years of his career. The Wallabies will miss Sharpe when he finally hangs up his boots but don't rule out him turning out against the Lions next summer despite suggestions that this will be his last match for Australia on home soil.
  • Villain of the Game: Scott Higginbotham is likely to be cited for his first-half headbutt on Richie McCaw. The referee was standing nearby but failed to penalise the Wallabies' back-rower and he will be very lucky if he escapes any further sanction.
  • Talking Point: The match signifies the end of the All Blacks' 16-Test winning run. It's been an incredible journey taking in the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Rugby Championship but they will have to start again if they are to rival the other record-breaking Tier 1 teams on 17 straight wins.
  • Play of the Game: Richie McCaw's decision to take the scrum when the clock was in the red zone showed the faith he has in his team's ability to attack from deep even though it was in the 83rd minute of the match. Ben Smith's subsequent break showed everything that is great about the All Blacks.

While there were no tries, neither side left anything in the tank in a physically and emotionally draining match in front of a bumper crowd of 51,888. Play continued for several minutes after the final siren and New Zealand's Dan Carter had the opportunity to win the game and stretch his team's streak to a record 17 games. But his dropped goal attempt was wide of the mark, meaning an 80-minute penalty-fest between the two trans-Tasman nations would end in an epic stalemate.

Rank outsiders before the match, Australia started with intent and felt the benefit of the boot of Mike Harris (five from five for the match) to claim a richly-deserved 12-6 lead at the interval. Taking advantage of some uncharacteristic All Blacks mistakes - including a yellow card to Tony Woodcock on the half-time whistle - the home nation barely put a foot wrong in the first 40 minutes. But turnovers began to creep back into their game after the break as a frustrated New Zealand moved to whittle away their advantage.

At 15-9 up after Kurtley Beale's long-range penalty for the Wallabies, Michael Hooper earned himself a 10-minute spell in the bin following a late challenge on Aaron Smith - and New Zealand duly capitalised. Turning up the heat on Australia, Carter (six from eight) reduced the arrears with the ensuing penalty - and then added another three points to tie things up on 67 minutes.

Four minutes later, the All Blacks took the lead for the first time when Adam Ashley-Cooper spilled a high ball, allowing Carter to kick his sixth penalty from right in front. But the Wallabies levelled again with Harris' fifth penalty as they pushed to send retiring skipper Nathan Sharpe out on a winning note. But that result wasn't to be.

The Kiwis were incensed that Hosea Gear's 23rd-minute effort was chalked off after a superb counter down the left flank. Harris and Gear were charging towards the ball and the former saved the day with a tap-down - although replays suggested he may not have got a finger on it at all.

Any suggestions this was going to be treated like a dead rubber were extinguished inside the opening minute. In an indication of the intensity the game would be played at, an onrushing Ashley-Cooper charged down the second kick of the game - and his pressure would have paid off had the ball sat in play.

It threatened to boil over at times in the first period, with Scott Higginbotham likely to face sanction for what appeared to be a headbutt on New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw. Australia dominated possession at stages of the first half and went closest to a try in a long, searching but ultimately fruitless 19th-minute foray.

They were not helped by the inevitable addition of one more to the long list of wounded Wallabies - Sitaleki Timani trudged off in the 21st minute, replaced by Kane Douglas.

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