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Australia’s Wallabies won the 2015 Rugby Championship by beating New Zealand’s
All Blacks 27-19 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
The Test match victory before 73,824 fans is the first time in the Rugby Championship that Australia have beaten New Zealand and just the All Blacks second loss in the tournament.
The Australian victory is the Wallabies first since 2012 and also keeps the Bledisloe Cup alive for another week as Australia and New Zealand meet again next weekend in Auckland at Eden Park.
The Wallabies last beat the All Blacks 25-20 in Brisbane in 2011 on the way to winning the Tri-Nations.
All Black winger Nehe Milner-Skuddder scored two tries on his international debut but ultimately Australia outscored the All Blacks by three tries to two with Nic White proving to be the hero by scoring a try, penalty and conversion after coming on as a replacement with 15 minutes remaining.
In between the All Blacks stretched an unbeaten 10-game run which took in the
previous coaching regimes of Robbie Deans and Ewen McKenzie.
But in Michael Cheika’s biggest win as the new coach, the Wallabies showed
plenty of resolve to beat the world champions three tries to two, just a month
out from the World Cup.
They trailed the All Blacks 6-3 at half-time, but controlled much of the second
half and now have the chance in Auckland next weekend to win back the Bledisloe
Cup they last held in 2002.
The Wallabies wasted a couple of scoring opportunities but could thank a desperate
tackle from Michael Hooper for only trailing by three points at half-time.
Australia started promisingly pushing back the All Blacks in the first scrum
and winning a couple of turnovers but they went a man down when prop Sekope
Kepu was yellow carded for off-side as New Zealand pressed Australia’s try-line.
Dan Carter kicked the penalty but the Wallabies suffered no further damage
during Kepu’s absence and levelled with a Matt Giteau penalty in the 27th minute
in their first sustained period of attack.
Carter kept the All Blacks in front with a 40-metre penalty while Giteau’s
second attempt came off an upright.
Israel Folau sliced through but was brought down by a last-ditch tackle from
counterpart Ben Smith, only for the Wallabies to blow a try-scoring chance with
Dean Mumm fumbling a poorly directed Nick Phipps in the next phase.
A thundering burst from prop Owen Franks put New Zealand on the attack on half-time
but a great covering tackle by Hooper on winger Julian Savea saved the situation
for the Wallabies.
Aaron Smith was sin-binned for a head-high tackle on Adam Ashley-Cooper but
the Wallabies hit the front through an unlikely source minutes later.
Tight-head prop Kepu steamed through Kieran Read’s tackle and another to score
under the bar for Giteau to convert for a 10-6 lead.
Carter kicked the All Blacks to within a point with his third penalty to become
the first player to raise 1,500 Test points.
Phipps capped a miserable night when he was sin-binned for a professional foul,
tackling Conrad Smith in an off-side position off a quick tap kick to leave
his team down a man at a critical time.
The All Blacks made the Wallabies pay when debut winger Nehe Milner-Skudder
finished off a Ben Smith break to put New Zealand back in front two minutes
Replacement Matt Toomua made an immediate impact with a clever kick for Ashley-Cooper
to regather and score in the right corner for Giteau to convert and a 17-14
Milner-Skudder retrieved the lead for the All Blacks with his second try, wrestling
the ball over the try-line at the second attempt.
Replacement scrum-half White put the Wallabies ahead with a 47-metre penalty
goal into the final 10 minutes.
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