New Zealand clinch Tri-Nations crown
September 13, 2008
Richie McCaw lifts the Tri Nations trophy
© Getty Images
New Zealand claimed the 2008 Tri-Nations title and retained the Bledisloe Cup with a hard-fought 28-24 victory over Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The All Blacks held off a storming Wallabies finish to win a thrilling rugby test 28-24 here tonight and lock the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cups in their cabinet for another year. Down 7-17 just after halftime the All Blacks rattled up three tries in 17 minutes to win their fourth consecutive Tri-Nations title and retain the Bledisloe Cup for a fifth year with a match to spare.
But the All Blacks weren't safe as a late try by Wallaby Ryan Cross with two minutes left narrowed the gap. The visitors then had to defend desperately as the seconds ticked away.
The visitors scored four tries to three at Suncorp Stadium and rode home on a roaring "All Blacks" chant from a fair proportion of the crowd of 52,328. Captain Richie McCaw and his jubilant team embraced at the final whistle.
The All Blacks struck the killer blows in the 62nd and 67th minutes when replacement halfback Piri Weepu scored then first five-eighth Daniel Carter bumped off two defenders to give them an 11-point margin which proved enough.
The win was a triumph for coach Graham Henry who was out-thought by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans in Sydney in July before the All Blacks bounced back with Tri-Nations wins in Auckland, Cape Town and Brisbane.
For Deans, his debut Tri-Nations season ended with back-to-back defeats after a flying start to his new job.
The Wallabies led 10-7 at halftime after they dominated possession in a scrappy first 40 minutes during which the whistle of referee Jonathan Kaplan was prominent.
The South African had little patience at the breakdown and warned both sides in the first half with yellow cards.
The All Blacks scored first in a rare attacking raid after a flurry of free kicks when fullback Mils Muliaina touched down after a quick tap from halfback Jimmy Cowan.
The New Zealand scrum-half found space inside the Wallabies 22m line then Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu used the overlap to send Muliaina over out wide.
It looked as if the All Blacks would carry their lead into halftime as they defended stoutly, a Kaino turnover halting one 12-phase Wallabies movement near the line.
But on the stroke of halftime the hosts finally strung some passes together and fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper put them in front.
First five-eighth Matt Giteau, who had a poor first half with the boot, kicked wide for wing Peter Hynes who was hit in mid-air by opposite Sitiveni Sivivatu, but freed the pass to his fullback who darted past Muliaina and Conrad Smith to score.
The test opened up after the break and the Wallabies had soon extended their lead to 10 points - Giteau handled twice and sent lock James Horwill crashing through Carter's tackle out wide for a score.
But coach Graham Henry sent on his substitutes with half an hour left and the All Blacks stormed home by taking advantage of the tiring Wallabies.
Prop Tony Woodcock raced 20m down the field following a Smith linebreak for his third try in two matches against Australia, and Carter converted from the sideline to narrow the gap to three.
Weepu had been on the field seven minutes before he dotted down when Sivivatu caught the Wallabies' defence napping. Then Carter nailed the coffin shut five minutes later when he bumped off Cross and Ashley Cooper to dive over near the posts.
Result of the final Tri-Nations rugby match at Suncorp Stadium here tonight:-
All Blacks 28 (Mils Muliaina, Tony Woodcock, Piri Weepu, Daniel Carter tries; Carter 4 con) Wallabies 24 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, James Horwill, Ryan Cross tries; Matt Giteau pen, 3 con). Halftime: Wallabies 10-7.
Wallabies: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Ryan Cross, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Lote Tuqiri, Matt Giteau, Sam Cordingley, Wycliff Palu, George Smith, Rocky Elsom, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Adam Freier, Matt Dunning, Hugh McMeniman, Phil Waugh, Richard Brown, Brett Sheehan, Drew Mitchell
All Blacks: Mils Muliaina, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson, Piri Weepu, Stephen Donald, Isaia Toeava.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)