Wallabies 12 All Blacks 12
Mud bath: Adam Ashley-Cooper is taken to the turf by Aaron Cruden. Photo: AP
- As it happened
- Five things we learnt
- Wallabies stand up to sternest test
- Ewen McKenzie defends Michael Hooper over penalty calls
Not this year, New Zealand. A scrappy band of mud-smeared Wallabies denied the world’s best Test rugby dynasty a history-making, record-breaking 18th win on the trot in front of a rain-affected 68,627 fans in Sydney.
At times it seemed they were doing their best to lose it, with an error-ridden performance on a wet and heavy track at ANZ Stadium.
Keeping his eye on the ball: Kurtley Beale. Photo: AP
But the boot of five-eighth Kurtley Beale, who kicked four from five penalties to twice level with the All Blacks in the second half, and a solid Wallabies set piece, saved some serious Australian face on Saturday night and led to the second draw in two years with New Zealand.
For much of the 80 minutes, the Wallabies’ new-era optimism was no match for the pure class of the All Blacks, who applied enough pressure to wilt an old growth forest but tripped themselves up with a big penalty count and two yellow cards.
The Wallabies gave away a penalty in the fourth minute to help New Zealand on the scoreboard via the boot of No.10 Aaron Cruden.
Beale shrugged off a week of feverish debate over his selection at five-eighth to slot a goal from 40 metres out and just to the right of the posts, levelling the scores at 3-3.
Cruden missed a shot at goal to take the lead again but was given a second chance minutes later and didn’t miss again. The Wallabies were making costly errors in the wet conditions, under mountains of pressure from their opponents.
Cruden made it 9-6 in the 23rd minute off the back of a strong New Zealand scrum.
Bleeding for the cause: Israel Folau. Photo: AFP
The Wallabies struggled for opportunities. Beale found the advantage line off set piece but was penalised for crawling on the ground after the tackle. It was a wasted opportunity in the All Blacks’ red zone. Another penalty put New Zealand on the attack. The Wallabies defused the threat twice in their 22 and sent play down the other end.
A scrum 15m in from halfway was Australia’s next chance but White threw the ball in crooked. The All Blacks sent a kick down to Kurtley Beale in back field and Kieran Read pinned his man.
What happened next will be examined for days to come. The Wallabies set up camp in the All Blacks half for what remained in the half but, despite being a man up, they couldn’t score.
All Blacks loosehead Wyatt Crockett was sin-binned for cynical play and Michael Hooper said no to a shot and took the scrum inside the 22. Ben Franks was subbed on for back rower Jerome Kaino to prop up the set piece and the Wallabies attacked, hoping to strike while the All Blacks had one less back rower on the field.
Hooper made a break but was caught around the ankles. The All Blacks were caught offside and this time the Australian captain pointed to the posts. But Beale’s kick bounced off the right upright after the halftime siren and excellent defence from the New Zealanders bundled No.8 Wycliff Palu out and into touch.
The Wallabies ran in trailing 9-3. They hadn’t conceded a try but, crucially, they hadn’t scored one either.
Two penalty goals from Beale in the opening 15 minutes of the half levelled the scores before Cruden booted his side back into the lead 12-9 in the 60th minute.
Australia kept the pressure on and fanned out in attack for a raid on the All Blacks’ line. But winger Julian Savea was as lethal as defence as he is in attack, saving a certain try to Pat McCabe in the corner.
Beale’s final contribution was another penalty to level again at 12-12 with 10 minutes to go. Bernard Foley took his place as Wycliff Palu was taken in for a concussion test, with Will Skelton joining the line up. The fresh legs had the desired effect, putting Australia on attack and in a position to take the match with two minutes left on the clock.