Wallabies go down in Dunedin thriller

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

“Tell them they’re dreaming," read the front page of the Dunedin newspaper in the lead-up to the second Bledisloe.

Well the Wallabies had a chance to dream in Dunedin, before their hopes of keeping the Bledisloe Cup alive were agonisingly snatched away by a last-gasp Beauden Barrett try, his second in a double, and the flyhalf's laser boot, which contributed 10 points in a 35-29 All Blacks win.

It took just 26 seconds for Israel Folau to grab an intercept off Damian McKenzie and score for the Wallabies, in what was the perfect start for a team that needed to prove it learned from the Sydney disappointment.

From then they held the lead for 60 minutes, in a period that challenged all of their resolve, the All Blacks denied three potential tries by TMO Rowan Kitt in that time, before Barrett finally stole the advantage back for the first time, acting as the All Blacks' circuit breaker.

The ultimate benchmark of their character, an element the Wallabies so often speak about, was that they didn't allow New Zealand to blow out the score when momentum swung, snatching back the lead with a Will Genia try in 67th minute, before a flurry of two tries a piece in 11 minutes changed the lead as many times.Ben Smith in action for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesWhere All Blacks slipped through tackles and ran around their Aussie counterparts in Sydney, they were pulled up in their tracks in Dunedin, with the Wallabies making 103 of 135 tackles, led by flyhalf Foley who racked up 14.

Their attack also found its niche, with Kurtley Beale back in fine form, and ball-carrying forwards including Sean McMahon finding a way to make an impact, even without the phyiscal tone of injured lock Adam Coleman.

After that Folau try, it was the Wallabies who had to absorb all the pressure, as New Zealand peppered their line, but in a far cry from last week the visitors stuck their tackles, repelling the Kiwis as they peppered the Australian line.

If the first five-pointer could have been considered a fluke, the Wallabies’ second, in the 11th minute through Michael Hooper, cemented the shock in the Dunedin stands.

Wallabies fans began to pinch themselves when just four minutes later, Bernard Foley finished off a slick attacking chain that began with a Will Genia break off the back of a scrum, the lead-up surviving a TMO review as well.

Things weren’t all perfect for the Wallabies - they could have held a 24-0 lead had Foley found his radar more accurately with the boot, the Wallabies playmaker hitting the post twice from four first-half attempts, missing four of his six attempts.

Where last week the Wallabies scrum was solid, penalty concerns this week forced a premature end for Stephen Moore in his final New Zealand Bledisloe Test, with the former captain pulled two minutes before the break.

The Wallabies were physical in Dunedin. Photo: Getty ImagesThe All Blacks sniffed weakness in the scrum, going back for more, and ultimately Aaron Smith slipped off the back of the scrum to score just before the break, making the margin just three points.

It looked as if the All Blacks would do what many believed would be the inevitable, when Brodie Retallick fell over the line, but TMO Rowan Kitt denied New Zealand leaving the Wallabies on top.

Australia held New Zealand out time and again as the half ticked on, but Barrett finally found a chink, scoring off the scrum and giving New Zealand the lead for the first time in the match.

Genia's try turned that around, but another missed Foley conversion meant the lead was just one point, and when Ben Smith found some pace four minutes later, he made no mistake as he looked to hand the Wallabies another painful Bledisloe memory.



Beale looked to have stolen the win for the Wallabies in the 76th minute, but Barrett was the hero for New Zealand instead, running through a gap for the final score.

New Zealand lost openside flanker Sam Cane in the 12th minute to concussion, while Ryan Crotty and Beauden Barrett also went off for head checks through the match.

The Wallabies fly back to Australia on Sunday, with their next Test against South Africa in Perth on September 9.

New Zealand 35

Tries: B. Barrett 2 Ioane, A. Smith, B. Smith

Cons: B Barrett 5

Australia 29

Tries: Folau, Hooper, Foley, Genia, Beale

Cons: Foley