The Qantas Wallabies have halted the All Blacks’ world record run of 17 straight wins with a brutal 12-12 draw at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday night.
In front of 68 627 fans, the Qantas Wallabies were unable to claim victory in the first match of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup despite being the more dominant side in the second half.
The Qantas Wallabies will now depart for Auckland to continue their bid to claim the Bledisloe Cup for 2014 with a victory at Eden Park, followed by a third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on Saturday 18 October.
On a wet Sydney night it was clear both sides would be in for a tough battle with strong hands and a solid set piece needed for victory.
Australia started the match well, controlling the early collisions after winning the ball off their own kick off.
New Zealand was given the opportunity for first points in the match in the third minute after an Australian forward was penalised for diving into the ruck. New Zealand flyhalf Aaron Cruden converted the kick to give the All Blacks a 3-0 lead.
Australian captain Michael Hooper was on to his duties early where his dominance at the breakdown allowed Australia to earn a penalty and gain valuable possession.
Kurtley Beale had the opportunity to level the scores in the 11th minute, and he didn’t miss as the score moved to 3-3.
As the two sides fought for early dominance in the set piece, Australian lock Scott Fardy was penalised at the lineout, giving Aaron Cruden another opportunity at goal.
The kick sliced to the right of the posts at the southern end leaving both sides locked in a tight tussle for score superiority.
The All Blacks, never deterred, continued probing at the breakdown. Cruden converted another penalty, giving the All Blacks a 6-3 lead over the Qantas Wallabies.
As Australia struggled to maintain consistent pressure at the All Blacks’ end of the field, New Zealand extended their lead through the boot of Cruden, taking the score to 9-3.
A daring run by Australian captain Michael Hooper off the base of the lineout, gave the Qantas Wallabies an attacking option inside the All Blacks’ defensive zone.
The ever present New Zealand defence desperately pushed the Wallabies out as the Australian outside backs tested their feet.
With minutes to go in the first half, the Qantas Wallabies sent wave after wave of attack on the New Zealand defensive lines as All Blacks’ prop Wyatt Crockett was sent to the sin bin for being offside and disturbing the Wallabies’ ball.
New Zealand was again penalised for defending from an offside position after the halftime siren, but flyhalf Kurtley Beale was unable to convert the opportunity for points.
At halftime the score was New Zealand 9 to Australia’s 3, but with the home side showing plenty of promise in the final stages of the first half.
The second half started at a frenetic pace as the Qantas Wallabies looked to set the agenda early.
Australia was rewarded for that dominance with a penalty kick 25 metres out after All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw was caught in an offside position.
This time Kurtley Beale made no mistake, taking the score to 9-6 in favour of the visitors.
In the 47th minute, with New Zealand down in Australia’s territory, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was again penalised at the breakdown, allowing Australia to clear the ball.
As both sides increased the tempo, New Zealand again infringed at the breakdown allowing the Wallabies to level the score in the 56th minute of the match at 9-9.
The All Blacks struck back soon after though with a further penalty of their own as both sides traded blows at the set piece giving the All Blacks a lead of 12-9.
Australia continued to attack the All Blacks’ defence for several phases and with an overlap looming hooker Nathan Charles pushed a flat ball to winger Pat McCabe who was only just pushed into touch.
Replacement Beauden Barrett was sent off almost as quickly as he came on for joining a ruck from the wrong side, leaving New Zealand down to 14 men with little over ten minutes left in the match.
Kurtley Beale converted the points bringing the scores level at 12-12.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie brought on his late replacements with Will Skelton and Bernard Foley entering the field of play.
With the clock ticking the tension inside ANZ Stadium rose as both sides battled to secure the victory.
At 12-12 and the clock counting down to less than a minute, the Wallabies had an attacking scrum 22 metres out from New Zealand’s line.
A vocal crowd cheered for the home side as the continued to pound the New Zealand defence, but they were ultimately beaten by the clock with the scores locked at 12-12.
Australian fans will have one more chance to see the Qantas Wallabies take on the All Blacks on Australian soil this year when they play at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 18 October. Tickets can be purchased here.