New Zealand beat Australia 37-39 in a thrilling but contentious Rugby Championship clash under the roof at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
The All Blacks stay top of the Rugby Championship table while retaining the Bledisloe Cup thanks to a last-gasp winner from Jordie Barrett settled the contest albeit in acrimony.
Australia clawed back an 18-point deficit to level the scores at 34-all after 74 minutes. Nic White put the Wallabies ahead with less than three minutes remaining before the referee handed the All Blacks the game on a platter.
Barrett scored the match-winning try after the hooter to break Australian hearts after a scandalous refereeing call from Matthieu Raynal.
Dave Rennie will be furious. Ian Foster, relieved. The ref’s call has all but settled this year’s fascinating Rugby Championship as next week’s Bledisloe Cup clash is at Eden Park, a ground the Kiwis have not lost at since 1994.
Raynal awarded the All Blacks a scrum after he deemed Bernard Foley was wasting time to kick a penalty to touch a minute before the end.
Lalakai Foketi won a penalty near his goal line to allow the Wallabies time to breathe. The game then descended into farce when the Frenchman lost his mind.
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Mr Raynal awarded the penalty on 79m24s but blew for time-wasting on 79m03s. If Foley had opted for posts, he would get his usual minute or more to take the kick.
Instead, the home team were only allowed 39 seconds to clear before the ref’s bizarre call.
The Wallabies and their fans were stunned at the call. The All Blacks also looked stunned at such a fortuitous piece of inept officiating, and they duly claimed victory from the jaws of defeat.
The French official was loudly booed off the field, and he had to have a security escort as he made his way to the tunnel.
This was shades of the calamitous Craig Joubert, who botched a late call in the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup between Scotland and Australia.
This see-sawing Bledisloe Cup clash will live long in the memory as both teams slugged out a nine-try epic in Victoria.
New Zealand raced into a 31-13 lead before the hour mark, but Australia fought back to lead 37-34 when White came off the bench to kick a 50-metre penalty.
White’s kick should have been enough, but for the late debacle at the death, which gave the Kiwis the win on a plate.
Australia had three players sent to the naughty step for various infringements, while Dalton Papali’i also spent time on the sideline.
The Wallabies’ cards proved costly as well. New Zealand scored three tries while the hosts were down to 14 and 13 players.
Conversely, Papali’i’s card did not cost his side any points.
Samisoni Taukei’aho bagged a brace on either side of halftime. Richie Mo’unga and Will Jordan also touched down before Jordie Barrett’s late score sealed the deal.
Mo’unga was majestic, kicking two penalties and four conversions (19 pts) to go with his try.
his opposite number returned to the Wallabies for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Foley kicked two penalties and four conversions (14 pts) on his return to the gold jersey. The 32-year-old also assisted Andrew Kellaway’s two scores in an assured comeback display at standoff.
Kellaway, who should have had a hat-trick, notched a double, while Rob Valetini and Pete Samu also crossed for the hosts.
New Zealand’s comfortable win sees them keep the famous trans-Tasman trophy for the 20th year going back to 2003.
Foster’s side is now in pole position to claim the Rugby Championship with one match to play next week in Auckland.
The trans-Tasman rivals had previously played a mid-week Bledisloe Cup Test before. Australia beat New Zealand 20-16 on a Wednesday night at the Sydney Football Stadium back in 1994.
The match is famous for George Gregan’s last-ditch tackle on Jeff Wilson, late in the game, to seal a famous victory down under.
This edition of the Bledisloe Cup will, however, be famous for other reasons.
New Zealand got off to a fast start, but Australia fought back to level the scores going into the break.
A see-sawing first-half ended level, a converted try and penalty apiece, despite two late yellow cards for the hosts.
Tom Wright (cynical) and Darcy Swain (dangerous cleanout) both went to the sin-bin four minutes before the break.
Swain should have been red-carded because his cleanout was malicious, and he could have ended Quinn Tupaea’s season.
Foster’s men, however, did not take advantage of their numerical superiority. Taukei’aho had a try chalked off before Rennie’s men held on for halftime.
New Zealand sped into a 10-point lead as Australia leaked penalties. The Wallabies, however, fought back to level before the half-hour mark.
Australia gave away six penalties in the opening quarter as New Zealand turned up the intensity.
The hosts got off to the worst possible start when Jed Holloway failed to claim the kick-off.
Holloway’s error saw the visitors kick two penalties to the corner before Taukei’aho powered over from the driving maul the line in the fourth minute.
Mo’unga slotted the touchline conversion before knocking over a 12th-minute penalty after James Slipper got caught offsides at the breakdown.
Slipper had previously been pinged at the scrum after Foley dropped a high ball. Jordie Barrett, however, pulled the long-range penalty wide of the posts.
Rennie’s men were reeling, but Rob Leota stole possession at the breakdown to give his team some respite.
Leota’s steal led to an attacking lineout on the Kiwis’ 22.
Wright’s angled run and linebreak off the back of the lineout saw the home team awarded a kickable penalty in front of the sticks. Foley made no mistake to put his side on the board.
Australia should have scored minutes later, but some superb cover defending, coupled with poor finishing, saw the hosts have a try chalked off.
Kellaway finished off a nine-phase attack, but the TMO got involved. The replay showed that the 26-year-old did not ground the ball.
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Rieko Ioane managed to chase down Kellaway and turn him in the tackle before Mo’unga helped keep the ball off the ground.
It was poor from the Wallaby fullback, who should have dived over before the defenders got to attempt the tackle.
Kellaway’s wastefulness did not hurt his side though. A momentum shift had changed the complexion of the game.
Back-to-back penalties at the lineout saw Slipper eschew the points and Foley kick to the corner.
The captain’s call ignited his team before Valetini crashed through Ethan de Groot and Sam Whitelock to score from close range.
Foley levelled and Papali’i went to the bin for multiple team infringements in the red zone.
The Aussies failed to take advantage of the 14 men; instead, the home team did not score any points, and Wright and Swain went to the sideline at the same time.
The tourists had two chances to add to their total before the hooter, but mistakes kept the scores at 10-10.
Taukei’aho broke off the driving maul and ran over Gordon, but the hooker lost the ball as he tried to score.
Rieko Ioane and Beauden Barrett then botched a two-on-one after Ioane’s poor pass got knocked on by Barrett.
The All Blacks pulled away in the third quarter as ill-discipline killed the Wallabies.
Foster’s side struck straight after the restart when All Blacks won a turnover from a counter-ruck. Aaron Smith sent the ball wide to De Groot at first receiver.
De Groot played Brodie Retallick, who drew the defender before sending Taukei’aho through a hole.
The hooker cut inside two defenders, straightened, and made a bee-line for the try line, carrying three defenders over the chalk for his second score of the match.
Mo’unga converted before Foley kicked his second penalty to make it 13-17.
Gordon got sent to the bin for collapsing the maul. It was harsh from the french referee, and the All Blacks struck twice to open up a formidable lead going into the final quarter.
Mo’unga scythed his way through a massive hole before crashing over next to the posts.
Moments later, Jordan claimed Beauden Barrett’s deft chip-kick and raced half the field to score his 20th Test try. The All Blacks’ playmaker added both conversions to make it 31-13 after 56 minutes.
The Test match turned on its head when Australia fought back with three scores to lead by three with seconds to play before the final drama unfolded.
Kellaway scored twice to give the Wallabies a shot. On 62 minutes, the tide shifted back in favour of the hosts.
Foley shook off two defenders before popping to Kellaway, who raced away to score. Foley’s pass looked forward on the replay yet the ref did not consult the TMO before the conversion.
Minutes later, the Aussies were in again. The Wallabies scored from a wonderful backline move involving Foley and Kellaway again.
The flyhalf’s long cut-out pass put the fullback into the space to beat Mo’unga and Ioane to the try line. Sensational.
Foley converted again, but Mo’unga made it a one-score game with his second penalty with nine minutes remaining.
But Rennie’s charges hit back for their third score in nine minutes. Samu slipped Jordan’s tackle before playing a one-two with Marika Koroibete to score his third Test try.
Samu’s converted try levelled proceedings before White thought he had won his side a famous victory.
But it was not to be.
Final Score: Australia 37 (10) New Zealand 39 (10)
Tries – Valetini, Kellaway (2), Samu
Pen – Foley (2), White
Con – Foley (4)
Cards – Wright (Yellow, 36′), Swain (Yellow, 36′), Gordon (Yellow, 51′)
Tries – Taukei’aho (2), Mo’unga, Jordan, J. Barrett
Pen – Mo’unga (2)
Con – Mo’unga (4)
Cards – Papali’i (Yellow, 26′)
Referee: Matthieu Raynal [FRA]
Assistant Ref 1: Andrew Brace [IRE]
Assistant Ref 2: Pierre Brousset [FRA]
TMO: Ben Whitehouse [WAL]
15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Nic White, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea