Rugby World Cup
Wallabies stun All Blacks
Graham Jenkins reports from the Telstra Stadium
November 15, 2003
Australia celebrate their stunning triumph at the final whistle
© Getty Images
Australia have become the first side ever to quaify for three World Cup Finals after a superb 22-10 triumph over New Zealand at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney.
'Don't die wondering' was the call from one Australian newspaper this morning and Eddie Jones' Wallabies side duly silenced their critics in emphatic style by upsetting the odds and set up a final against either England or France next weekend.
It is another bitter pill to swallow for John Mitchell's New Zealand who were also dumped out of the 1999 World Cup at the semi-final stage and they must now make do with another play off game which will be seen as a huge failure from a country that will now go into mourning.
Larkham looked to get a jump start on the the All Blacks with a drop goal attempt in the opening minutes but his effort went wide with nerves playing their part. You could have been forgiven for thinking that 10,000 Englishmen had turned up a day early by the masses of white throughout the stadium and they decided they'd had enough of the action after five minutes and began to sing 'Swing Low', which was met with a chorus of boos.
A break from the impressive Jerry Collins had Australia back-peddling soon after, and only a tackle from Wendell Sailor on his opposite number Joe Rokocoko brought the move to an end. However, the All Blacks were soon pressing again from the lineout, and the ball went through the hands in the Wallabies' 22 to Mil Muliania who looked to have dotted down in the corner under pressure from Lote Tuqiri. But the video official Jonathan Kaplan ruled that the ball had been knocked forward in the tackle and it proved to be some let off for Australia.
The All Blacks looked determined to gain some reward for this spell of pressure but when the superb Stirling Mortlock pounced on a loose pass from Carlos Spencer and raced eighty metres to dot down under the posts the game suddenly had a whole new feel. Flatley added the extras to give the Wallabies an unlikely lead.
Leon MacDonald had an opportunity to pull three points back almost immediately when Australia were penalised for hands in the ruck but the All Black was off target in another sign that this may be the Wallabies' night. The ball continued to bounce Australia's way and they came close to extending their lead when they launched a cutting counter attack following a poor clearance from Spencer.
Rogers injected the initial pace and he was supported well by Tuqiri, they recycled on the All Blacks' 22 when a crunching and illegal tackle from Collins put Nathan Sharpe on his back and ensured another three points care of Flatley with the boot.
Australia continued to get some change out of a New Zealand defence that has been on top of its game for most of this tournament, hitting the gainline at pace with the likes of Stephen Larkham and Mortlock causing havoc at every turn. A bone-cruching late hit on All Blacks' scrum-half Justin Marshall by Australia's George Smith rattled the New Zealander as their frustration at not exerting the pressure everyone thought they would came to light.
MacDonald's day with the boot didn't get much better on the half hour when he had another chance to put the All Blacks on the board and his team seemed to be running out of ideas against an Australian side thayt had well and truly dug in in defence.
A great take from Tuqiri spurred another surge from the Wallabies, and following successive turnovers Mortlock once again broke the gain line into the 22, the ball was recycled and although the final pass was spun into touch the All Blacks had drifted off-side and before you knew it, it was 13-0.
But this All Blacks team didn't get here without any right and when Larkham was caught in possession, Spencer danced his way deep into the Wallabies' 22 before offloading to his skipper Reuben Thorne who crashed over for the try. MacDonald finally slotted a kick with the conversion to pull New Zealand back into the game and that's the way it stayed until the break.
The game continued to slip away from the All Blacks after the break when Tuqiri and Mortlock did more damage before a frustrated Collins was penalised for hands in the ruck in his own 22. Flatley had no hesitation in slotting another three. The Wallabies continued to get in the face of their favoured opponents, and despite some persistent pressure, one topping fifteen phases, mistakes ended any chance of reward for New Zealand.
All Blacks coach John Mitchell opted for changes with Byron Kelleher and Kees Meeuws thrown into the action to stir things up but their impact was minimal. As the pressure continued to build the mistakes continued to flow for the All Blacks. Larkham sliced his way through once more and MacDonald drifted offside to give Flatley another shot at three which he duly took.
A glimmer of life in New Zealand's World Cup campaign came with a MacDonald penalty but it was not long before Flatley restored the twelve point advantage as the All Blacks indiscipline cost them dear once more.
Flatley had a chance to all but kill off the All Blacks with five minutes to go when Kelleher found himself on the wrongside of a ruck but his miss met New Zealand were given another life. The All Blacks began to look desperate in the closing minutes, nowhere to be seen were the flowing moves that have highlighted this tournament, but the errors still plagued them.
The Wallabies were in no mood to give anything away and were happy to kill this game off to the delight of this packed house. Many people's favourites New Zealand are condemned to the 3rd/4th play off in the worst possible style to the worst possible opponent. A sad repeat of their RWC'99 semi-final failure means they must face the wrath of a success-demanding New Zealand public.
The Wallabies notched a deserved victory and will gain new life and impetus from this superb performance that keeps them on course for their third Rugby World Cup crown.
New Zealand: 10 Try: Thorne Con: MacDonald Pen: MacDonald
Australia: 22 Try: Mortlock Con: Flatley Pen: Flatley (5)
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Doug Howlett, Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Joe Rokocoko, Carlos Spencer, Justin Marshall (Byron Kelleher 48min), Jerry Collins (Mrty Holah 73min), Richie McCaw, Reuben Thorne (c), Ali Williams (Brad Thorn 58min), Chris Jack, Greg Sommerville, Keven Mealamu, Dave Hewett (Kee Meeuws 48min/70min).
Replacements not used: Daniel Carter, Mark Hammett
Australia: Mat Rogers (Joe Roff 29min blood bin), Wendell Sailor, Stirling Mortlock (Joe Roff 72min), Elton Flatley (Nathan Grey 64min blood bin), Lote Tuqiri, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (c), David Lyons, Phil Waugh, George Smith (Matt Cockbain 72min), Nathan Sharpe (David Giffin 24min blood bin/40+min), Justin Harrison, Ben Darwin (Al Baxter 49min), Brendan Cannon (Jeremy Paul 49min), Bill Young.
Replacement not used: Chris Whitaker
Referee: C. White (Eng)