Planet Rugby

Wallabies win 18-18

20th October 2012 13:00

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Maa Nonu

Ma'a Nonu: Prepares for the hit

Australia ended New Zealand's 16-match winning streak with an 18-all draw at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Though honours were shared by the trans-Tasman rivals, Australia will treat this result as a mental victory seeing that Robbie Deans' troops weren't given a chance in hell of matching the All Blacks prior to kick-off.

In a match decided exclusively by penalties, Kurtley Beale and Mike Harris combined for 18 points for Australia, while Daniel Carter slotted six penalties for the All Blacks.

But with the scores locked at 18 points apiece at the death, the world champions were camped in the Australia's 22 and Carter was given one last opportunity to kick a drop-goal to hand the All Blacks victory.

His shot was just wide, however, and the match ended in a hard-fought draw.

New Zealand were bidding to join the 1969 All Blacks and 1998 Springboks with 17 successive victories but were once again foiled by the Wallabies, who ended New Zealand's unbeaten 15-match run in a 26-24 win in Hong Kong in 2010.

Harris was on great form in the first half, kicking all his four penalty goal attempts to give the under-strength Wallabies a 12-6 half-time advantage.

The Wallabies began well when they charged down a clearing kick in the opening seconds only for the ball to elude Adam Ashley-Cooper over the dead-ball line.

Carter kicked the All Blacks to a 6-3 lead before New Zealand came the closest to scoring in the first half through winger Hosea Gear. Israel Dagg's kick ahead was just forced dead by Harris with Gear in hot pursuit midway through the half.

Wallabies' blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham could be in hot water after his scuffle with All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw. Higginbotham appeared to knee McCaw in the head to trigger the skirmish before appearing to head-butt the All Blacks skipper on the ground. Both players were cautioned by referee Craig Joubert.

Joubert made good on his warning of 'next one goes' when he gave All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock a yellow card for repeated ruck infringements on the half-time siren.

Harris kicked his fourth penalty to give the Wallabies a six-point buffer at the turnaround. Beale lifted the Wallabies' confidence even further with a prodigious penalty from just inside his own half for a 15-6 lead.

But Carter kicked his third penalty and the Wallabies lost openside flanker Michael Hooper to the sin-bin after taking out All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith after he had kicked ahead.

Carter then pulled New Zealand to within three points with the resulting penalty in the 56th minute.

Australia lost a line-out on their throw giving the All Blacks possession inside their quarter and they mounted successive mauls before they received a penalty for Carter to level the scores at 15-15 with 13 minutes left.

New Zealand got the big breakthrough when Adam Ashley-Cooper spilled Aaron Cruden's high kick and Nick Phibbs was in an off-side position in picking up the ball for an All Blacks penalty.

Carter kicked his sixth penalty nine minutes from time to edge New Zealand in front and in sight of victory. But Harris levelled with his fifth penalty with five minutes left in what proved to be the final score.

Man of the match: Kurtely Beale was Australia's most dangerous player and skipper Nathan Sharpe led from the front, but Kieran Read once again loomed large for the All Blacks. The number eight was heavily involved throughout and deservedly named the official man-of-the-match at Suncorp Stadium.

Moment of the match: Geez, take your pick! But in the end it just has to be Carter's last-gasp drop-goal attempt.

Villain of the match: Two yellow issued - one to Tony Woodcock and the other to Michael Hooper. But the real villain that got away was Scott Higginbotham after his headbutt on Richie McCaw.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Pens: Beale 2, Harris 4

For New Zealand:
Pens: Carter 6

Yellow cards: Tony Woodcock (NZ), Michael Hooper (Aus)

The teams:

Australia: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 James Slipper, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Drew Mitchell.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

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