Wallabies edge New Zealand 24-22 to lift Tri-Nations spirits
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The Wallabies rebounded from a record loss with a 24-22 win over New Zealand on Saturday in a so-called dead rubber match that contained two reds cards, two yellow cards and two late tries.
Replacement prop Taniela Tupou burrowed over for a match-clinching try after being heavily involved in the build up and Reece Hodge converted to give Australia a nine-point cushion with five minutes to play in Brisbane.
It was far from over, though, and Tupou Vaa’i crossed to reduce the gap to two points with less than two minutes to play before Australia finally ended a winless season against the All Blacks.
The New Zealanders clinched the Bledisloe Cup series last weekend with a 43-5 win in Sydney after also winning in Auckland and drawing the series opener 16-16 in Wellington. They made eight changes to their lineup for what was the last match of the series.
But there were still points at stake in Brisbane, with the Tasman teams now one apiece in the Tri-Nations tournament ahead of next weekend's match between Argentina and New Zealand.
“Its a good bounce back. It's a good response from last week," Australia captain Michael Hooper said. “The series is over, but we'll take that one for sure.
“We're a proud team. And that performance last week didn't reflect where we're at ... so really proud of our guys."
A brutal first half contained two tries, two red cards and a yellow card, ending with the score locked at 8-8 and New Zealand holding a one-man advantage.
Winger Tom Wright scored with his first touch in test rugby for Australia after two minutes and Rieko Ioane leveled for New Zealand at 5-5 with a try in the left corner after the All Blacks held possession for 29 phases.
The Wallabies were leading 8-5 in the 23rd minute when New Zealand prop Ofa Tuungafasi was red carded after a review by the television match official for a high tackle on Wright, who was making an angled run in off the wing.
The Australians opted against shots at goal twice in a bid to seize on the numerical advantage but it backfired after New Zealand leveled again when Jordie Barrett landed a penalty goal.
And it got worse for the Australians when rookie flanker Lachie Swinton was red carded in the 35th for a dangerous, no-arms hit on veteran lock Sam Whitelock and then winger Marika Koroibete was yellow carded for being off his feet when he contested the ball in a ruck just before the break.
James Slipper’s 100th test match for Australia finished just before halftime when the frontrower left the field with an injured left arm.
After a scrappy start to the second half, a Hodge penalty goal gave Australia an 11-8 lead just before Koroibete returned to the field to level up the numbers again at 14-14, almost immediately making a try-saving tackle deep in the left corner.
But the New Zealanders hit the front when Whitelock won a close-range lineout in the 52nd and Codie Taylor got the points in the middle of a driving maul.
A long-range Hodge penalty goal from a scrum penalty cut the to 15-14, setting up the big finish.
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