Australia knock All Blacks off their game

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Lynn McConnell     22 Oct 2017     Getty Images

It came after replacement prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi obstructed an Australian defender and although the All Blacks stormed back onto attack to win a penalty, in their run down a knock-on by flanker Sam Cane spelled the end of their hopes.


After so many disappointments in recent times, the Australians shut the game down and claim their first win since 2015 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney when they won 27-19.

They used their No.8 Sean McMahon as a human wrecking ball with the sole aim of moving the ball around against an All Blacks team that lost some of their form at times. There were also handling errors and some untidy lineout work that denied them the chance to build the sort of platform they are most effective from and there were unnecessary off-the-ball penalties conceded when promising situations had been created.

There was also some outstanding defence but the spirit was with the Australians, especially as they sensed this was capable of being their night. They forced the All Blacks to tackle more and they denied them the ball for long periods and they scored first, six minutes into the game.

Having secured a perfect midfield attacking position on the 22m line after a superb tackle by flanker Sam Cane on McMahon, the All Blacks feinted right then passed back to the left where first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga's pass was intercepted by wing Reece Hodge who cleared out on a 75m run to the line.
Australia conceded ground from a penalty when lock Rob Simmons was marched 10m for yelling at referee Wayne Barnes. From that the All Blacks gained the lineout just out from the Australian line. Patient in their pick-and-goes, the All Blacks tight men worked the ball and then at the right moment halfback Aaron Smith flung a long pass which allowed wing Waisake Naholo the easiest route to the goalline.

On halftime, Sopoaga's midfield kick allowed too much time for Australia to launch a counter attack and they held onto the ball, also gaining a penalty advantage, to work the ball well into the All Blacks' 22 with skipper and flanker Michael Hooper breaking the advantage line and providing quick ball which allowed Beale to give fullback Israel Folau the chance he needed to score.

The first half was marked by some solid All Blacks defence with Cane and No.8 and captain Kieran Read putting in some effective work with the Australians on the receiving end several times losing ball forward.

The All Blacks were forced to replace prop Kane Hames after a head knock just before halftime. And two minutes into the second half there was a lengthy break when Australian lock Rob Simmons was taken off the ground by stretcher after a neck injury.

Second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams made some early key tackles and in one stole the ball from centre Tevita Kuridrani to set an attack in action.

Smith went close to scoring, just stopped by a desperate ankle tap after the All Blacks freed Naholo on a strong sideline break with an inpass to Smith.

With Foley having missed a 50th minute penalty goal attempt, the next opportunities were both taken as lineouts and from the second, and the subsequent maul, the Australians were under advantage when they released the ball to see Folau get the pass to wing Marika Koroibete to score in the corner.

Hodge extended the lead with a 63rd minute penalty goal but an extended period on attack saw the ball consistently hold the ball until it took a corkscrew in the tackle by Williams and a transfer of the ball to Read, who in turn got the ball to Rieko Ioane to do the job in racing in 25m to score.

Scorers: Australia 23 (Reece Hodge, Israel Folau, Marika Koroibete tries; Bernard Foley con; Hodge 2 pen) New Zealand 18 (Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane tries; Lima Sopoaga con, 2 pen). HT: 12-13