Australia deservedly won a close, hard-fought and entertaining match, against their Tasman rivals, the New Zealand All Blacks, 27-19 at the Allianz Stadium Sydney on Saturday, August 8, in front of a capacity crowd of over 73,000. It was Australia’s first victory over New Zealand since 2011, and a timely reminder that under Michael Chieka this Australian team is to be reckoned with.
It was a scrappy, error-strewn first half, with New Zealand going into the break 6-3 up. Two penalties by Dan Carter, one by Matt Giteau, plus a yellow card against the Australian Kepu, was all the match had offered so far. There were mistakes, but also encouraging signs for Australia. Their forwards more than matched the All Blacks; and the backrow of Pocock, Fardy and Hooper edged the New Zealanders, McCaw, Read and Kaino…not often that happens in a test match.
The points flowed after the break. Both teams took their opportunities. Australia opened the scoring in the second half with a converted try by Kepu (10-6), followed by a penalty from Carter (10-9), and a try by Milner–Skudder (10-14), on his All Black debut scoring at the other end. Two minutes later Adam Ashley-Cooper scored an excellent try, after a beautifully weighted kick from Matt Toomua, making the score 17-14. A few minutes later Milner-Skudder scored his second try, giving the All Blacks the lead 17-19, with 12minutes to play.
A long range penalty by replacement scrumhalf Nic White, made the score 20-19; this was followed by an opportunistic try by White who, at close range, broke through the New Zealand defence and converted his try to make it 27-19. Australia then held on for victory.
Key to the Australian win was the impressive dominant forward display, and the timely introduction of Toomua at flyhalf and Nic White at scrumhalf. Both provided energy, precision and accuracy to create and take chances for Australia.
Australia dominated possession (58%) and territory (56%), and missed fewer tackles when it mattered (close to the try line). It was a disappointing performance by New Zealand, especially Dan Carter, who was inaccurate with his kicking, and the team generally was unable to make the most of their line breaks. Full credit to Australia, they outplayed them.
The return leg of the Bledisloe is this Saturday (August 15) at Eden Park, Auckland. Australia has not won at Eden Park since 1986, nor won the Bledisloe in 13years. New Zealand will be in no mood to suffer a repeat performance. Australia will be confident this is a team that has the talent to add the Bledisloe to their Championship victory, and maybe look further ahead to the World Cup in October.
Grahame Carder is a sports enthusiast, writer and former player from representative Schoolboy level, through University and most corners where he’s lived. Currently works as Consultant on Strategy and Marketing.