All Blacks retain Bledisloe in tough clash
July 17, 2004
Tana Umaga lifts the Bledisloe Cup
© Getty Images
New Zealand finally turned territory into points in Wellington on Saturday to collect a 16-7 opening Tri Nations win over the Wallabies on Saturday - and retain the Bledisloe Cup.
Although Larkham over cooked both the kick off and an early touch find he was able to put the famed All Black back tree under pressure after only 10 minutes with a deep kick which was gathered by Mils Muliaina, however Radike Samo was on hand to charge down, Doug Howlett gathering the loose ball, and winning the penalty as the Australians piled over.
This seemed to be the catalyst for the All Blacks to crank up a gear. The Wallabies pack were put under pressure at a scrum and Muliaina made a great break on the right to take play deep into Wallaby territory. The All Blacks continued to pressure Al Baxter in the Australian front row, and pressure on the Wallaby line out kept the home team on the attack.
A lineout steal by Chris Jack allowed Carlos Spencer to put up a massive kick which hit the post and as Larkham and Whitaker collided in the in goal area as Whitaker gathered referee Alain Rolland claimed they had taken the ball over. The All Blacks looked for a big shove from the five metre scrum but were penalised and Larkham was able to clear the danger.
Penalties continued to flow at the ruck and maul and as Alain Rolland warned both sides Spencer was able to give his pack a lineout 15 metres out which Jack again gathered and the pack rumbled on to the five meter mark where Marshall recycled it. Desperate Wallaby defence paid off when Umaga tried to break through close in but knocked the ball forward. The All Blacks had the chance to open the scoring with the first penalty chance of the evening when George Smith was penalised for some unnecessary use of his boot at a ruck after 28 minutes, however Daniel carters kick dipped just under the cross bar. However again it seemed to spur on the new Zealanders as Spencer again put up the high diagonal kick which after two attempts Tuqiri was able to collect in the in goal area ahead of Rokocoko.
The stalemate was finally broken after 34 minutes when Carter was able to convert the territorial advantage into points after the Wallabies were penalised at the lineout and the centre made no mistake with his second chance of the night.
The All Blacks came out intent to take the game to the Wallabies early in the second period with Rokocoko breaking the tackle of Tuqiri and feeding Muliaina - who was unable to hold the greasy ball. Larkham cleared but the All Blacks continued to press from the lineout but as punches flew Brendan Cannon and Keven Mealamu were given 10 minutes to cool off and Daniel Carter was able to double the All Blacks lead.
With complete territorial control the All Blacks were looking to get their backs more involved in the action and a chip through sent Muliaina and Whitaker on a chase with the Australian scrum half doing very well to gather and slide back into his own in goal area. However the All Blacks continued to press and from a lineout only 10 metres out Jack gathered well and the pack drove forward before it was shipped left and then right but the superb Wallaby defence was able to absorb the pressure, with Carter knocking on.
Tuqiri was again forced to turn and cover a chip through into the in goal area with Rokocoko breathing down his neck but even from the 22 the Wallabies were unable to break out as the all Black pack took play back deep into Wallaby territory. The Australian defence was finally pierced when after the pack sucked in the Wallaby cover from a scrum the ball was moved wide with Muliaina finding Howlett wide on the right for the games first try, Carter converting to take the lead to 13-0.
However the Wallabies finally broke out of their own 22 and as they pressed the under employed All Black defence a kick ahead from Giteau was missed by Rokocoko but gathered by Mortlock who slid in under the posts with Larkham converting to narrow the gap to only six points.
However the All Blacks eased the pressure by returning to the wallaby half and secured the win with a third Daniel Carter penalty just before the hooter.
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