All Blacks canter to Tri Nations title
August 19, 2006
New Zealand celebrate after clinching Tri Nations glory in Auckland
© Getty Images
New Zealand surged ahead 31-20 at one stage before a 70th-minute try by Lote Tuqiri, his second for the test, narrowed the difference to four points before New Zealand's defensive screen held firm to leave the Wallabies winless in Auckland since 1986. A 78th-minute penalty by Dan Carter, after Wallabies flanker Phil Waugh was sin-binned for an early tackle on Ali Williams, iced the win before a capacity crowd of 47,000. The All Blacks' 14th successive win, and their 21st at home, left New Zealand one match short of equalling England's record of 22 consecutive triumphs on home soil. All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was a relieved man afterwards.
"We knew the Australians would be desperate and our guys showed a lot of ticker to get out of jail," McCaw said. He was particularly happy with how his team's lineout performed, in light of New Zealand's problems in that area this year. We got the lineout ball we needed under pressure." New Zealand overcame a tentative, error-ridden opening period to eventually secure their third win over Australia this season. The Wallabies barely threatened in the second half but Tuqiri's touchdown off a Matt Giteau grubber set up a frantic finale where New Zealand's defence held sway, as it did in Brisbane when the Bledisloe Cup was retained on July 29. After conceding a halftime deficit, the All Blacks wore down the Wallabies with tries to rangy lock Jack and second five-eighth McAlister pulling the All Blacks clear of a committed Australian side.
Jack popped up on the right flank to complete a move initiated by his locking partner Ali Williams in the 63rd minute while McAlister pounced when a Carter hit on Stephen Larkham allowed the midfielder to streak 40m to score five minutes later. Little went right for the All Blacks in the first spell as poor options and handling hamstrung a side who had not played for three weeks. An intercept try to Tuqiri summed up the All Blacks' opening half while a questionable score three minutes before halftime by loose forward Rocky Elsom gave the Wallabies a sniff of their first win in eight attempts in Auckland.
Tuqiri struck in the 24th minute, leaping to snare a floated pass by Jerry Collins bound for Joe Rokocoko before haring off with only prop Carl Hayman offering token resistance. The All Blacks tighthead prop could barely stand after being concussed at a ruck and he was replaced by Greg Somerville. McCaw also climbed off the canvas after a controversial hit by Tuqiri four minutes after halftime which left McCaw dazed after he was propelled head first into the turf. McCaw bounced back, his recovery typifying the All Blacks' resolve as they knuckled down to add 20 unanswered points.
Lock Jason Eaton scored New Zealand's first try seven minutes before the break when he burrowed over after a maul. New Zealand rolled relentlessly from the Wallabies 22m line, Eaton applying the finishing touches as the Australian pack fragmented. New Zealand's joy was shortlived as Elsom was judged to have scored in the 37th minute despite television replays suggesting he bounced the ball on the line . New Zealand mounted their response after the break with two Carter penalties before Jack and McAlister supplied the killer blows.
All Blacks head coach Graham Henry rang the changes after halftime, the most telling acknowledging the promotion of rookie centre Isaia Toeava to the starting 15 was ill advised. The 20-year-old was subbed for Leon MacDonald in the 43rd minute while Mils Muliaina slotted into midfield from fullback. Hayman watched the remainder of the game from the sideline and his health will be assessed before the team head to South Africa. New Zealand's win carried them to 17 points while Australia improved to 11 with their bonus point for losing by seven. The winless Springboks, who host the All Blacks in Pretoria and Rustenberg, have a solitary bonus point.
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