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Rokocoko's try sets up Bledisloe win

Photosport

Sportal.co.nz     30 Jul 2006     Photosport

The sold-out crowd of 52,498 witnessed a great game of rugby with the All Blacks getting the ascendancy in the first half through a Joe Rokocoko try and the Wallabies mounting a huge fight back in the second half to almost snatch the win.

The All Blacks dominated the scrum and the breakdown with their pace and numbers, often being able to isolate the Wallabies players and get easy turnover ball but poor lineout ball from the New Zealanders kept the Australians in the game.

And with a weight of possession and field position in the last 30 minutes the Wallabies threw everything at New Zealand but desperate defence, particularly from the Kiwis loose trio of skipper Richie McCaw, Jerry Collins and Rodney So'oialo saw the visitors come out on top.

Australia went ahead in the eighth minute when Stirling Mortlock slotted a penalty from a ruck infringement by All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu but the All Blacks hit back immediately with a great try to wing Rokocoko.

The Kiwis forced a turnover 15 metres into the Australian half and quickly got the ball wide to the flying wing who evaded the cover defence and stepped inside Wallabies fullback Chris Latham to score his first Test try in almost a year. First five-eighths Dan Carter converted from wide out to give the All Blacks a 7-3 lead.

New Zealand went further ahead when Rocky Elsom was penalised 35 metres out from his own line for hands in the ruck. Carter made no mistake and New Zealand had a 10-3 lead.

Mortlock misses a difficult penalty attempt 10 minutes before half time after good lead-up pressure from the Wallabies but slotted an easier one six minutes later when Mealamu was again pinged for a ruck infringement.

New Zealand 10-6 at half time.

Australia went on the attack early in the second half and in the 52nd minute went very close on both wings. Mortlock threw a dummy in the backline and ran into space, he found Mark Gerrard in support who sprinted for the corner. But the All Blacks cover defence cut the winger down and it was great play again by McCaw to force the turnover.

Lock Ali Williams found himself at fullback and his clearing kick found Larkham on halfway. He spun the ball across field to wing Lote Tuqiri who had an acre of space but he was brought down by lock Ali Williams on the left flank. Once again New Zealand forced the turnover and No.8 Rodney So'oialo put in a good clearing kick to relieve the pressure.

But Carter took the steam from Australia's sails by slotting a dropped goal in the 55th minute just when the Wallabies had the ascendancy to push New Zealand out to a 13-6 lead.

Mortlock restored the four-point margin just a few minutes later with a penalty from 42 metres out.

Greg Somerville came on for Tony Woodcock in the Kiwi scrum as the Wallabies made three changes with 15 minutes to go bringing on Tai McIsaac, Mark Chisholm and Phil Waugh for Jeremy Paul, Nathan Sharpe and Rocky Elsom and the fresh legs seemed to have an effect as Australia attacked a tiring All Blacks outfit.

Skipper George Gregan opted for an attacking penalty with 12 minutes to go and the Australians mounted wave after wave of pressure eventually cracking New Zealand's defence but with the goalline begging Larkham threw the ball behind his support and the ball bounced into touch.

With all players out on their feet, the Wallabies threw the ball around in a last ditched attempt to break the All Blacks, but the visitors managed to hold firm and retain the Bledisloe Cup.

New Zealand 13 (Joe Rokocoko try: Dan Carter con, pen, dropped goal) Australia 9
(Stirling Mortlock 3 pen).

HT: 10-6