Monday 15 October 2018

Australia strike late to condemn All Blacks to first defeat since Ireland game in Chicago

Australian Wallabies players celebrate winning the third Bledisloe Cup rugby union match against the New Zealand All Blacks at Lang Park in Brisbane
Australian Wallabies players celebrate winning the third Bledisloe Cup rugby union match against the New Zealand All Blacks at Lang Park in Brisbane

Charlie Morgan

Australia mounted a dogged second-half comeback to beat New Zealand in an absorbing Test at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

After two All Blacks wins during The Rugby Championship, this game was a technically dead rubber with the destination of the Bledisloe Cup already assured.

However, a fine performance from an inspired Wallabies back row and two long-range Reece Hodge penalties ensured the hosts cancelled out a 13-12 half-time deficit and secured themselves a confidence-boosting victory ahead of their autumn tour.

Hodge had given Michael Cheika's men a stirring start in the opening exchanges, intercepting a Lima Sopoaga offload and racing 70 metres to score the game's first try.

However, the All Blacks quickly clicked into action. With their muscular defence forcing errors from Australia in slippery conditions, they responded swiftly thanks to Waisake Naholo, who latched onto Aaron Smith's whipped pass.

Two penalties from Sopoaga followed, but Israel Folau - phenomenal throughout - skated over on the stroke of half-time to ensure Australia remained in touch.

Back-rowers Jack Dempsey and Sean McMahon, helped by replacement lock Fukhan Tui, helped their side take hold of the second period.

When a series of robust carries forced a penalty out of New Zealand, Bernard Foley turned down a shot at goal to go to the corner.

The ball was worked left from the maul and Marika Koroibete burst past Damian McKenzie. Australia a 17-13 advantage that was richly deserved.

Two cannoned kicks from Hodge's tee came either side of a Rieko Ioane try that kept things tight until the end, but when Sam Cane spilled in midfield Australia had their win.

It was the first defeat for the all Blacks since Ireland lowered their colours in Chicago last year.

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