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A stunning long range intercept try from Israel Folau highlighted a much improved performance from the Qantas Wallabies as they went down 27-16 to the All Blacks in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash in Wellington tonight.
The win to New Zealand saw them retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th straight year. The Wallabies have not held the trophy since 2002.
To keep alive their hope of winning back the Bledisloe the Wallabies had to become the first Australian team to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand since the great John Eales’ team won 23-15 in Dunedin in 2001.
The game started at a frantic pace after New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick charged down Will Genia’s clearing kick and the All Blacks poured on to attack. But the Wallabies turned it over and launched their own counter attack through a nice interchange through prop James Slipper and wing James O’Connor.
Both teams were having problems at lineout time before another turnover saw the Wallabies launch an attack deep in All Blacks territory with new blindside flanker Scott Fardy prominent with two excellent touches.
The move ended with hooker Stephen Moore reaching out to score what looked like a possible try, which was not referred back to the TMO by referee Jaco Peyper. But the Wallabies had earned a penalty, which Christian Leali’ifano converted to put Australia ahead 3-0 after seven minutes, as rain began to fall in Wellington.
The All Blacks now launched an attack with a scything break from fullback Israel Dagg. The Wallabies gave up a penalty but debutant flyhalf Tom Taylor missed his first shot from wide-out.
The Wallabies were putting on great pressure at the breakdown, competing fiercely at every opportunity, something that was missing in Sydney last Saturday. They were also far more enterprising in possession, changing the lines of attack quickly and surprising the All Blacks.
More pressure from the Wallabies earned another penalty chance to Leali’ifano on 20 minutes after the All Blacks illegally knocked down a pass from Folau. But this time Leali-ifano’s shot from wide on the left faded.
Leali’ifano made up for it soon after with a scintillating break that was stopped just a metre short. But the All Blacks again infringed and Leali’ifano this time made no mistake with the penalty that his run had won. Australia 6-0 up after 25 minutes.
But as they do time and time again suddenly the All Blacks were in front. Keiran Read leapt high to reclaim a kick and then the ball came wide quickly through the hands to wing Ben Smith who sprinted away to add another try to his hat–trick last Saturday. This time Taylor was successful with his kick and the All Blacks led 7-6.
The All Blacks launched another dangerous attack soon after and won a penalty close to the line as Slipper was replaced due to injury with young Brumbies prop Scott Sio running on.
Taylor was successful with the penalty from wide out on the right and New Zealand were up 10-6. He missed with another shot from over 50 metres out shortly after but the All Blacks were to have the last say in the first stanza.
A strong break from blindside flanker Steven Luatua was finished off once more with quick hands out to Smith who dived over for his second. Taylor’s conversion attempt rebounded off both uprights before falling back into the field of play to leave the half time score Wallabies 6 All Blacks 15.
The Wallabies started brightly in the second half and a superb break from O’Connor saw them go close after five minutes. Australia earned a penalty with yet another infringement from New Zealand and took a lineout but somehow the All Blacks held out and won themselves a relieving penalty.
Taylor then made it 18-6 after 54 minutes with a long range penalty after the All Blacks won a scrum penalty.
The Wallabies launched another attack and won another penalty after good lead up work from Ben Mowen and Folau, with the All Blacks surely edging towards yellow card territory.
Leali’ifano slotted the close range penalty to bring it back to 18-9 as Quade Cooper made his entrance for Matt Toomua.
The Wallabies were having trouble at scrum time and when the All Blacks disrupted Australia’s scrum they won another penalty just metres out with Taylor’s kick making it 21-9 on 61 minutes.
Australia were not short of effort but they lacked precision in their finishing touches and the All Blacks won another penalty which Taylor converted on 70 minutes to put New Zealand out to a commanding 24-9 lead.
A stunning long range intercept try to Folau, converted by Leali-ifano, gave the Wallabies some hope with seven minutes left but the All Blacks converted another penalty through Dagg to put it back to 27-16 and retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th straight year.
The Wallabies now have a chance to re-group before they take on the Springboks in Brisbane on September 7th in their next match of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
CASTROL EDGE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/BLEDISLOE CUP
FULL TIME SCORE
All Blacks 27 (Ben Smith 2 tries; Tom Taylor conversion, 4 penalties, Israel Dagg penalty) defeated Qantas Wallabies 16 (Israel Folau try; Christian Leali’ifano 3 penalties, conversion) at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. (Half Time: All Blacks 15-6)(Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)).