The Qantas Wallabies have won the Rugby Championship and kept their campaign to win back the Bledisloe Cup alive with a thrilling 27-19 win against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday night.
In front of 73 824 fans, the Qantas Wallabies produced yet another dominant second half performance to prevail in a see-sawing battle for their first victory over New Zealand since 2011.
A trio of second-half tries to Sekope Kepu, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nic White powered the men in gold to their third consecutive win of the international season.
The Wallabies now head to Auckland next Saturday (15 August) to attempt to win back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
Qantas Wallabies Captain Stephen Moore said: “It was a good week’s preparation and we really worked hard getting ready for this match.
“We fought hard for each other and we were able to get home in the end despite what they threw at us”.
“We really hung in there in defence, worked hard and covered for each other. We fought hard for each other and I was really proud of that.”
The Qantas Wallabies started the match placing immediate pressure on New Zealand with a rare mistake by the All Blacks off the kick off.
The first test for Australia came within the first ten minutes with Sekope Kepu sent to the sin bin by Wayne Barnes for a penalty at the breakdown. New Zealand flyhalf, Dan Carter made no mistake and took the score to 0-3.
Reduced to 14 men, Australia continued to defend their line with the All Blacks having a constant overlap. The men in gold turned back phase after phase of defence including a covering dive from Matt Giteau when a kicked through ball by the All Blacks almost resulted in the first try.
It showed the commitment from the Qantas Wallabies defence that the All Blacks were only able to score three points with the Australia a man down.
A powerful run by David Pocock in the 22nd minute broke the New Zealand line allowed the Qantas Wallabies to set up an attacking opportunity.
A much improved Australian scrum proved the difference from previous Test matches this year with the Qantas Wallabies scrum earning a penalty against New Zealand allowing Matt Giteau to level scores at 3-3.
Dan Carter struck back immediately for New Zealand with a Wallaby offside at the breakdown to take the score to 3-6.
Handling errors proved costly for the Qantas Wallabies who consistently put pressure on New Zealand but were unable to convert more scoring opportunities.
Despite a late raid by New Zealand the Wallabies defence held firm leaving the scores at 6-3 at half time.
The second half saw New Zealand scrumhalf Aaron Smith sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Adam Ashley-Cooper who was breaking towards the line.
Unlike Australia, New Zealand was unable to hold their line with a man in the bin with Sekope Kepu scoring Australia’s first try right underneath the posts.
Matt Giteau converted the try to take the score to 10-6 and give Australia the lead for the first time in the match.
Never far behind New Zealand kept in touch with Australia with a penalty through Dan Carter bringing the deficit to one point at 10-9.
Nick Phipps earned the ire of referee Wayne Barnes for an obstruction on Conrad Smith and was sent to sin the bin.
The effect was immediate on the Qantas Wallabies with the All Blacks finding space out wide allowing Nehe Milner-Skudder to score the first All Black try. Dan Carter missed the conversion to leave the score at 10-14 in favour of the visitors.
With Matt Toomua replacing Bernard Foley at flyhalf the Qantas Wallabies were able to capitalise on a rushed up New Zealand defence, as Toomua kicked behind for a flying Adam Ashley-Cooper to score in the corner.
The successful conversion by Giteau took the score to 17-14 in favour of the men in gold.
The crowd of 73 824 was enthralled with the battle between these two sides as Nehe Milner-Skudder scored his second try of the match as dived into the corner through Israel Folau and Matt Giteau. Dan Carter missed the conversion taking the score to 17-19.
Nic White proved to be the hero for Australia twice with a successful penalty conversion close to halfway and a try to give Australia a 27-19 lead.
With the crowd cheering for the men in gold, the Qantas Wallabies defence was tested by the All Blacks with a final raid on the men in gold’s line.
The clock clicked over to 80 minutes and Matt Toomua sent the ball into touch and the crowd into raptures.
The Qantas Wallabies will now travel to Auckland to win back the Bledisloe Cup.