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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
The Tri-Nations came into being hand-in-hand with professionalism in 1996 and immediately sated the appetite of the rugby world in the southern hemisphere.
Comprising a double round of Tests played on successive weekends it provided the world's rugby superpowers with an annual competition only a rung below the World Cup.
New Zealand carried all before them in the first two seaons and won a hat-trick of titles in the first four years of the tournament.
Their winning streak was only broken when South Africa, in the midst of their 17-match unbeaten run, won in 1998.
Each nation has now lifted the Tri-Nations trophy at least once following Australia's victory last year in what was widely regarded as the best of the five tournaments.
2001 has a lot to live up to.
The inaugural year was by far the most significant but the rugby did not disappoint and the competition was a roaring success.
At wet and windy Wellington New Zealand opened with a thumping six-try win over Australia and never loosened their grip on the tournament.
After both teams enjoyed tight wins over South Africa the Wallabies looked to have won the reverse fixture in Brisbane before the All Blacks scored 17 un-answered points in the final 10 minutes.
South Africa held on for their first and only victory at home to Australia before New Zealand again came from behind beating the Springboks in Cape Town 29-18 having been 18-6 down at the break.
New Zealand took a firm grip on the tournament and maintained their unbeaten run in the Tri-Nations with two away victories in the opening matches of the series.
With Carlos Spencer running the show from stand off the All Blacks ran in seven tries in the two matches scoring 35 points against South Africa in a three point win before a more comfortable win in Australia when they scored 33 points.
Seven more tries followed in a thumping 20-point home victory over South Africa before the All Blacks wrapped up proceedings with another comfortable win over Australia.
New Zealand scored more points in a season than any other team but still only managed 11 more than the Springboks who humiliated Australia in the final match of the season to leap-frog their opponents into second spot.
South Africa not only broke New Zealand's stranglehold on the competition but the previously dominant All Blacks became the first, and so far only team, to fail to win a match in the competition in their worst Test season since 1949.
Australia, with Matt Burke scoring 24 points, the most by any individual against the All Blacks, opened with a victory and were unlucky not to follow it up with another home win in Perth's first ever Test when they went down by one point against the Springboks.
The South Africans crossed the Tasman to record their first win in New Zealand since 1981 before Australia followed their lead with a scintillating performance in which two late Kiwi tries added a respectability to the scoreline.
The boot was on the other foot in Durban where the All Blacks squandered a 23-5 lead with only 15 minutes remaining, and buoyed by that win South Africa completed a clean sweep with a win over Australia.
New Zealand returned to winning ways in 1999 but it was a far more conservative approach to the one they adopted when they carried all before them in 1997.
In the opening game New Zealand shut out South Africa in Dunedin and an equally woeful performance by the Springboks in Brisbane effectively ended their hopes of victory in the competition.
The trusty boot of Andrew Mehrtens carried the All Blacks to victory over Australia and with home teams in the ascendency the key result came in Pretoria when New Zealand brushed South Africa aside for a decisive victory.
When Australia lost by one point in South Africa the All Blacks were assured of victory and the result of their final match in Sydney became academic.
The 2000 Tri-Nations has been hailed as the best ever and it was given the perfect start by a match many regard as the greatest Test ever.
In front of a world record crowd of 109,874, at Stadium Australia, New Zealand raced into a 24-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes only to be pegged back to 24-24 at half-time.
Australia edged ahead before Jonah Lomu breached their defence in the final minute to secure a precious win that set the tone for the competition.
South Africa were well beaten in their two away games before the Wallabies and All Blacks met again in another amazing encounter that went Australia's way when John Eales converted a last-minute penalty for a one-point win.
In South Africa the hosts won an 86-point match against New Zealand that gave Australia a chance of overall victory.
They duly seized the opportunity with their first win on South African soil courtesy of a Stirling Mortlock penalty with the last kick of the game and the tournament.
Teams are awarded four points for a win and receive bonus points if they score four or more tries or if they lose by seven points or less.
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