Brisbane: Australia pulled off an unlikely win Saturday as they bounced back from a record loss to beat New Zealand 24-22 in a thrilling Tri Nations Test match in Brisbane.
With both teams reduced to 14 men in the first half following red cards for New Zealand’s Ofa Tuungafasi and Australia’s debutant Lachlan Swinton for high tackles, the Wallabies dug deep to come from behind to stun the All Blacks.
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After being smashed 43-5 in Sydney last weekend, the Wallabies were given little chance of turning the tables on the All Blacks, who had already secured the Bledisloe Cup with a game to spare.
But they finished the stronger of the two teams and sealed the win when replacement prop Taniela Tupou crashed over with five minutes left to put the home side 24-15 ahead.
But there was still time for All Blacks to cross with two minutes remaining when Tupou Vaai scored next to the posts and Jordie Barret converted to reduce the gap to 24-22, but the Wallabies held on for a deserved win.
“I’m really proud of the guys, we’ve been working hard for a lot of weeks,” said Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who was enjoyed his first win since taking charge of Australia.
“We knew we were better than last week and showed a lot of character tonight. We know we get still be better, we can be tidier and finish off the game without putting the coaches through the wringer.
“But they’re a good bunch of boys, they’re working hard and great that we got a result tonight.”
The Wallabies got away to a blistering start in front of over 36,000 fans when winger Tom Wright scored with his first touch in Test rugby.
A perfectly placed chip kick from fly-half Reece Hodge fell perfectly for fullback Tom Banks, who then found Wright with a clever flick pass.
The All Blacks struck back only six minutes later when winger Rieko Ioane crossed in the corner after 29 phases to level the scores at 5-5.
Two red cards
Hodge put the Wallabies back in front with a penalty in the 21st minute before the All Blacks were rocked by Tuungafasi’s red card when the big prop was adjudged to have hit Wright in the head with a high tackle.
After weathering a storm from the Australians, the All Blacks drew level at 8-8 when Micheal Hooper was penalised for entering the ruck from the side right in front of the posts and Jordie Barrett made no mistake with the penalty.
But from the ensuing kick-off Swinton smashed Sam Whitelock with a shoulder to the head and referee Nic Berry had an easy decision to show him the second red card of the match.
The Wallabies were rocked once again when winger Marika Koroibete was shown a yellow card right on half-time for a professional foul but they held on and went into the break with the scores level.
They then took the lead against the odds 10 minutes after the restart with a second Hodge penalty, and when Koroibete returned to the field the Wallabies were ahead 11-8
But that lead lasted just two minutes as Codie Taylor crashed over at the back of a driving maul after Whitelock secured good ball at the line-out five metres out.
Jordie Barrett converted from out wide to make it 15-11 to the All Blacks.
A third Hodge penalty following a dominant Australian scrum got the Wallabies to within a point at 15-14.
Then with 13 minutes to go, the All Blacks were down to 13 when Scott Barrett was shown a yellow card for a cynical foul, batting the ball away illegally to stop an attack while lying on the ground.
The Wallabies took full advantage with another Hodge penalty before Tupou’s match-winning try.
“We said we wanted a response after last week and we got it,” said a delighted Rennie. “Good to get a result like that as it helps with belief.”