A thrilling 17-17 draw with New Zealand has sent Australia into a Cup quarter-final against England tomorrow.
Australia held the lead for much of its pivotal pool game but a try after the full-time hooter to Ardie Savea drew scores level and handed New Zealand top spot in Pool A.
Captain Ed Jenkins, who scored Australia’s opening try in the match, said while it was disappointing not to be able to close out the game, they would take plenty of confidence int oday two.
“For us to come that close, we probably should’ve shut them out at the end of the game, so it’s a bit disappointing, ” he said.
“But we can look at it the way we didn’t lose a game today so going into tomorrow we should have a lot of confidence in that quarter-final against England. ”
Australia found itself down in the opening stages, with Rieko Ioane opening the scores but Aussie captain Ed Jenkins replied in the fourth minute to draw scores level.
Lewis Holland crashed his way through a ruck to score his third try of the day and put Australia in the lead with two minutes to go in the opening half.
Veteran James Stannard made it 17-5 in the dying seconds of the first half, igniting the home crowd.
Augustine Pulu found the line for New Zealand three minutes into the second half, narrowing the lead to just seven points.
An Ardie Savea try after the hooter levelled scores and handed NZ top spot in the pool.
The Australia- New Zealand game was the most hyped of the week but Jenkins said they would need to move on quickly from the result.
“It’s easy (to reset), ” he said.
“We’re through to the quarter-final so it doesn’t really matter who we play we’ve just got to turn up tomorrow morning and win that quarter-final to keep progressing through the comp
“Whoever you play you’ve got to front up for that first game in the morning.
“We’ve made that mistake before where we haven’t turned up and been done and dusted and then you’re playing for the plate.
“So we really want to go all the way and that means winning that first up game. ”
Australian coach Andy Friend said there were mixed feelings among the squad.
“I think what they’re disappointed with is they worked so hard and we got so close," he said.
“But a quality team like New Zealand you’ve got to play right the way through that last 14th minute until the ball is out.
“Credit to them they’re a good football side, that’s why they’ve been world champions and they’re always knocking on the door. ”
Australia faces England in its Cup quarter-final on Sunday at 12:19pm AEDT, while New Zealand faces the USA.
Fiji will face Kenya and South Africa meets Argentina in the other two Cup quarter-