Australia defeat the All Blacks to make serious statement ahead of Rugby World Cup
Published 08/08/2015 | 14:06
Australia have won the Rugby Championship and ended a long barren run against New Zealand, firing a World Cup warning shot to England and Wales in the process.
The Wallabies, who will contest Pool A alongside the home nations this autumn, were behind for long periods but tries from Sekope Kepu, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nic White gave them a 27-19 triumph.
It is the first time in four years Australia have beaten New Zealand - for whom debutant wing Nehe Milner-Skudder scored two tries and Carter booted nine points - and they can now regain the Bledisloe Cup if they win at Eden Park next week.
Australia, desperate for a win over their trans-Tasman foes, opted to fight fire with fire by starting both David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the same back row for the first time.
The plan to take on Richie McCaw, who equalled Brian O'Driscoll's record as the most capped player in international rugby history in his 141st Test, was clear from the outset at ANZ Stadium.
Michael Cheika's side snaffled two early turnovers, but All Black perseverance dented their progress, with Kepu going into the sin-bin after eight minutes for being caught offside by Aaron Smith's prudent quick tap. Carter duly split the posts to make it 3-0.
The Crusaders fly-half almost made the most of his opposite number Bernard Foley's charged down kick soon after, but he was judged not to have touched down amid a scramble and the Wallabies remained unscathed before Kepu returned.
Toulon centre Matt Giteau assumed kicking duties for Australia and he levelled the scores with a penalty of his own after 27 minutes, before Carter nudged the All Blacks back into a 6-3 lead with a fine long-range attempt.
Just after Australia's Ashes defeat was confirmed at Trent Bridge, Giteau struck an ambitious penalty against a post and then Israel Folau was stopped short minutes before the interval.
But as fears grew about it not being Australia's day, they had a sudden slice of luck as Aaron Smith was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Ashley-Cooper and then Kepu bagged his first Test try. Giteau added the extras to make it 10-6 after 44 minutes.
The world champions never panic, though, and Carter made it a one-point game with his third penalty, before Australian scrum-half Nick Phipps became the third man to be yellow carded in the 54th minute.
It took New Zealand two minutes to exploit their man advantage, with Ben Smith drawing three tackles and then shipping out wide to Hurricanes flyer Milner-Skudder to dive over in the corner. Carter was unable to add the conversion, but New Zealand were still back in front 14-10.
That lead lasted five minutes before Ashley-Cooper squeezed into the corner, with Giteau converting to complete his seven-point haul, and then Milner-Skudder got his second of the game after a TMO review to make it 19-17 to New Zealand.
Substitute White took over kicking duties and slotted a penalty from 47 metres to make it 20-19 to the hosts, before he snuck over the line and converted his own try to wrap up a glittering 10-point cameo late on and seal the win.