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Australia 19-27 New Zealand, Rugby Championship
All Blacks down Wallabies for opening win
August 18, 2012
Date/Time: Aug 18, 2012, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Australia 19 - 27 New Zealand
Attendance: 76877  Half-time: 10 - 18
Tries: Sharpe
Cons: Barnes
Pens: Barnes 4
Tries: Dagg, Jane
Cons: Carter
Pens: Carter 5
Israel Dagg beats Adam Ashley-Cooper to score, Australia v New Zealand, Rugby Championship, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia, August 18, 2012
Israel Dagg goes over for the Kiwis
© Getty Images
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New Zealand turned in a gutsy defensive display to defeat Australia 27-19 in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Israel Dagg and Cory Jane crossed for first-half tries as the All Blacks opened up a handy lead, with veteran Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe able to reply just before the break.

The second-half was a tale of the kickers, as Dan Carter and Berrick Barnes shared six penalties between them, the last a Carter shot to snatch a losing bonus-point away from Australia.

The Wallabies - reigning champions after sealing victory in the final Tri-Nations last season - turned in an error-strewn display and failed to trouble the All Blacks in defence, notably passing up possession and territory at regular intervals.

Story of the Game

  • Man of the Match: Israel Dagg popped up with the opening try, a scintillating break (with a little help from Richie McCaw) and closed the game down at the death by chasing his own kick to set-up Dan Carter's final penalty. Excellent.
  • Key Moment: Australia fullback Kurtley Beale dropped a simple pass close to his line, gifting the All Blacks a five-metre scrum from which Cory Jane scored to make it 18-3 just before the break.
  • Hero of the Game: All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith went up against the world's best in Will Genia and didn't take a backwards step. Great distribution and a sneak peek at his running game in the second-half.
  • Villain of the Game: Many would argue that the game featured too much whistle, but Australian fans will expect far more from Beale next weekend.
  • Talking Point: Robbie Deans' Australia will be under pressure to produce more in attack next weekend - calls will doubtless be made for Quade Cooper to return, but Berrick Barnes had another fine game at fly-half in Sydney.
  • Play of the Game: Dagg's last-minute charge to haul Adam Ashley-Cooper over his own line ended Australia's hopes of stealing a win and eventually resulted in a penalty to snatch away a losing bonus-point. Ruthless.

The win leaves the Kiwis one win away from retaining the Bledisloe Cup prior to next Saturday's return clash at Eden Park.

The Wallabies posted the first points with a third-minute penalty goal to Barnes after Sonny Bill Williams, playing his first game at ANZ Stadium since walking out on the Bulldogs in 2008, threw a forward pass with his first touch.

Carter answered from out wide to level things up in the 11th minute when the Wallabies' scrum was penalised for collapsing.

The All Blacks scored the opening try two minutes later after a beautiful set move off an attacking scrum. Carter received the ball on halfway and drifted across field dangerously, allowing Williams to run an inside decoy line to wrong-foot the Wallabies defence. Carter fired a ball to Dagg who easily stood up Kurtley Beale to score.

Carter nailed the sideline conversion and added another penalty goal from directly in front on 20 minutes for a 13-3 lead. The Wallabies made a rare raid into All Blacks territory but came up empty after Beale passed up a penalty goal right in front and unsuccessfully took a quick tap.

Beale, who had a rare off night, cost his side another five points when he knocked on 10m out from his own line before he could get his clearing kick away.

The All Blacks scored off the ensuing scrum when Jane completed a sweeping movement that featured quick hands from Williams and Dagg to open up an 18-3 advantage after 34 minutes. Sharpe answered with a crucial try just before the break, crashing over after a powerful run from Digby Ioane left the Kiwi defence stretched.

Barnes and Carter traded early penalty goals after the resumption but Barnes again found the target from 40m to close to within a try in the 50th minute. Carter could not connect from 51m out but he made no mistake from close range on the hour to restore the visitors' eight-point buffer after David Pocock was penalised at the breakdown.

Barnes closed the gap to five with as many minutes left to play, leaving the Wallabies in with a shout of a famous comeback. They couldn't safeguard possession though, and after kicking ahead the excellent Dagg tackled Adam Ashley-Cooper across his own goal-line. From the ensuing scrum the All Blacks won a penalty, and Carter made no mistake to ensure that Australia will head across the Tasman with nothing.

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