Malakai Fekitoa scored a try in the last minute as the All Blacks overturned a 10-point deficit to beat the Wallabies 29-28 in Brisbane.
Malakai Fekitoa scored a try in the last minute as the All Blacks overturned a 10-point deficit to beat the Wallabies 29-28 in Brisbane on Saturday.
Written off before kick-off following a tumultuous fortnight off the field, the Wallabies answered their critics in defiant fashion and looked on course to end a three-year losing streak against their rivals from across the ‘ditch.’
But rugby is a game of 80 minutes. And once again the All Blacks showed they are the masters of the fast finish.
Ewen McKenzie’s side produced arguably their best performance of 2014 and willing be kicking themselves for not closing out from a winning position as they failed to match the Kiwis’ intensity in the last quarter.
The result means New Zealand win the 2014 Bledisloe series at 2-0.
Australia led 15-12 at half time thanks to tries from half-backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley while New Zealand replied through scores from wing Cory Jane and hooker Dane Coles.
Centurian Adam Ashley-Cooper scored for the Wallabies in the second half but an Aaron Smith try for the All Blacks ensure the game went down to the wire.
The Wallabies drew first blood when Phipps scored in the 14th minute. Christian Leali’ifano stepped inside Fekitoa to break clear and combine with Israel Folau to set up the attack. Phipps dummied right and then sniped on the side of a ruck for the opening try.
Bernard Foley added the conversion but New Zealand replied immediately, scoring from the restart as Conrad Smith regathered the kick-off before Kieran Read’s offload found Jane, who did well to evade two defenders and the touchline to dive into the corner.
Beauden Barrett’s excellent conversion levelled the scores at 7-all at the end of the first quarter.
Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper turned down a couple of kickable penalties in favour of chasing a try but the hosts’ set piece was not secure enough for the gamble to pay off.
When Richie McCaw was penalised for not rolling away the sensible thing to do was take the points and Foley duly put the Wallabies in front.
But once again the All Blacks hit back immediately as Coles sold Ashley-Cooper an audacious dummy before showing an impressive turn of pace to race home. Barrett missed the conversion.
The Wallabies’ were doing great work in keeping ball in hand and moving the point of attack. Hooper was stopped just short but Foley was on hand to dive into the corner.
The fly-half couldn’t convert his try though, meaning Australia led by just three points at the interval.
The hosts stretched their lead after the break though as Ashley-Cooper became the first Wallaby to score a try in his 100th Test, finishing off good work from Folau and Tevita Kuridrani. Foley added the extras.
Barrett pulled three back following a ruck infringement but Foley could restore the 10-point margin when the All Black replacement front row buckled at scrum time approaching the hour mark.
Hopes of a Kiwi comeback were dealt a blow when Patrick Tuipulotu saw yellow for taking Rob Simmons out in the air but the visitors were next to score, despite the numerical disadvantage, as Aaron Smith took a penalty quickly and caught the Aussies napping to sneak over.
Barrett’s conversion cut the deficit to three points and set up a grandstand finish.
McCaw was the guilty party once again at a ruck allowing Nic White to land a long-range penalty to give Australia some breathing room.
But six points were enough as Fekitoa found a gap after a period of sustained pressure and Colin Slade made no mistake from the tee to crush Wallaby hearts.
Man of the match: Richie McCaw gave away a few penalties but was a tackle machine, as was Brodie Retallick. A mention for Michael Hooper for pulling his side together and contributing massively as a ball carrier but we’ll go for Bernard Foley, not only for his 15 points, but his tireless work in getting back in defence.
Moment of the match: There can only be one candidate. Malakai Fekitoa’s try at the death broke Aussie hearts.
Villain of the match: No real nasty stuff to report
Tries: Phipps, Foley, Ashley-Cooper
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 2, White
For New Zealand:
Tries: Jane, Coles, A. Smith, Fekitoa
Cons: Barrett 2, Slade
Yellow card: Tuipulotu
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali’ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Rob Horne.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charles Piutau
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)