Flashback: Eales given perfect send-off

Date published: August 31 2016

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In the latest edition of our series, we look back at this week in history and pick out a key moment from rugby’s archives.

For this edition we’re going back to 2001, and the day one of the game's great locks hung up his Test rugby boots for good.

National Rugby League betting odds can be found here.


September 1, 2001

Surely there isn't a better way to bow out of international rugby than with a win over the All Blacks to secure a Tri-Nations title. Unsurprisingly given his outstanding career, John Eales did just that.

Australia's greatest second row had played a major role in the Rugby World Cup success of 1999 and after a ten-year Test career in which he won 86 caps, the time had come to retire.

Eales was always a unique player, not just for his excellence in the second row but also because of his abilites as a goal-kicker. By the time he retired from international rugby he had accumulated 178 points through 34 penalties and 31 conversions, as well as two tries.

Ending on that winning note wasn’t exactly an armchair ride, taking on the All Blacks in front of a crowd of over 90,000 in Stadium Australia.

The Wallabies had drawn at home with South Africa but won away against the All Blacks at the old “House of Pain” at Carisbrook, which all left them requiring a victory in the final game of the tournament.

Australia certainly had the better start, with Matt Burke knocking over two penalties to one from Andrew Mehrtens, before Chris Latham’s try off a Stephen Larkham cross-field kick handed the Wallabies a 13-3 lead.

Two more Burke penalties to one from Merhtens meant the Wallabies held a commanding 19-6 half-time advantage, although the result was far from settled.

New Zealand came roaring back thanks to tries from Pita Alatini and Doug Howlett, and after two more Mehrtens penalties New Zealand suddenly looked ready to spoil the party for Eales on his farewell.

But the Wallabies showed huge character, Andrew Walker coming off the bench to kick a penalty to cut the gap to four points before a final surge towards the line in the closing stages as Toutai Kefu powered over, with Elton Flatley converting to cap off a famous win and to send Eales off in style.

Australia: 15 Matt Burke, 14 Chris Latham, 13 Dan Herbert, 12 Nathan Grey, 11 Joe Roff, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan, 8 Toutai Kefu, 7 George Smith, 6 Owen Finegan, 5 John Eales (c), 4 David Giffin, 3 Rod Moore, 2 Michael Foley, 1 Nick Stiles
Replacements: 16 Brendan Cannon, 17 Ben Darwin, 18 Matt Cockbain, 19 Phil Waugh, 20 Chris Whitaker, 21 Elton Flatley, 22 Andrew Walker

New Zealand: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga, 12 Pita Alatini, 11 Jonah Lomu, 10 Andrew Mehrtens, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Ron Cribb, 7 Taine Randell, 6 Troy Flavell, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Norm Maxwell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Anton Oliver (c), 1 Carl Hoeft
Replacements: 16 Mark Hammett, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Mark Cooksley, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Justin Marshall, 21 Tony Brown, 22 Christian Cullen

Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Attendance: 90,978
Referee: Tappe Henning (South Africa)

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