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Australia 24-28 New Zealand

Australia (10) 24
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Horwill, Cross Cons: Giteau 3 Pens: Giteau

New Zealand (7) 28
Tries: Muliaina, Woodcock, Weepu, Carter Cons: Carter 4

Richie McCaw (L) holds the Tri-Nations trophy and Rodney So'oialo lifts the Bledisloe Cup
McCaw (l) holds the Tri-Nations trophy and So'oialo lifts the Bledisloe Cup

New Zealand claimed their sixth Tri-Nations title in seven years with a thrilling comeback win over Australia in the deciding match in Brisbane.

The visitors took an early lead through Mils Muliaina, but tries from Adam Ashley-Cooper and James Horwill put the Wallabies 17-7 ahead after 45 minutes.

New Zealand hit back as Tony Woodcock, Piri Weepu and Dan Carter all crossed in a superb 20-minute burst.

Ryan Cross scored late on to give the Aussies hope but it was too late.

The victory was the perfect result for All Blacks coach Graham Henry, who was under enormous pressure following his side's failure at the World Cup last year while his job again looked precarious after the defeat to Australia at the end of July.

But the triumph in Brisbane on Saturday, which sealed their fourth straight Tri-Nations title and their sixth successive Bledisloe Cup, will go some way to answering the critics.

606: DEBATE
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The two sides started the match knowing that victory would claim the title but it was Australia, led by Kiwi Robbie Dean who was overlooked for the New Zealand job after the World Cup, who made the early running.

They showed no hangover from their drubbing at the hands of South Africa last time out but could not capitalise on their territory and possession.

And their cause was not helped by Matt Giteau's shaky start, the fly-half missing a penalty as well as two penalty touches in the opening quarter.

The All Blacks took advantage of Australia's profligacy, crossing after 13 minutes from a quick tap that caught the home side's defence napping.

Scrum-half Jimmy Cowan made the initial break and the ball was spread wide to Muliaina, who had the simple task of crossing for the game's opening try.

Australia came back into it and after New Zealand's ubiquitous skipper Richie McCaw was penalised at the breakdown, Giteau settled his nerves by kicking the three points.

Dan Carter scores for New Zealand
Dan Carter claimed the winning try for New Zealand 12 minutes from time
The Wallabies piled on the pressure and although New Zealand held on bravely, the black wall was finally breached in first-half stoppage time when Ashley-Cooper was played in by Peter Hynes.

And the home side looked to be taking a stranglehold of the match five minutes after the restart when Giteau made an incisive ghosting run through the All Black defence to launch a move that lock Horwill finished off out wide.

But as Australia's intensity dipped, New Zealand raised theirs, prop Woodcock starting the decisive scoring spree with a charging run down the wing to the corner for his fifth try in five Tests against the Wallabies.

Sitiveni Sivivatu's break and neat offload to substitute scrum-half Weepu then put the All Blacks ahead and victory was all but completed when Carter brushed off a poor tackle by Cross to sneak over when nothing seemed on.

Australia never gave up and they pulled to within four points when Cross made amends by barging his way over with just two minutes to go.

The score set up a thrilling finale but the All Blacks were not to be denied, leaving Australia still searching for their first Tri-Nations title since 2001.


Australia coach Robbie Deans:
"We gave it a fair crack and came up just short.

"I was delighted with their effort tonight to build a lot of pressure but we couldn't convert that into points.

"We're not happy losing but the players gave it everything and it could have been different. To win the Tri-Nations you have to be that much better."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry:
"It was a marvellous competition and a great game of rugby, either side could have won.

"I have a huge amount of respect for what the guys have done. They showed a lot of guts and togetherness to come back from 10 points down, so I am exceptionally proud of the boys."


Australia: Ashley-Cooper; Hynes, Cross, Mortlock, Tuqiri; Giteau, Cordingley; Robinson, Moore, Baxter, Horwill, Sharpe, Elsom, Smith, Palu.
Replacements: Freier, Dunning, McMeniman, Waugh, Brown, Sheehan, Mitchell.

New Zealand: Muliaina; Kahui, Smith, Nonu, Sivivatu; Carter, Cowan; Woodcock, Hore, Somerville, Thorn, Williams, Kaino, McCaw, So'oialo.
Replacements: Mealamu, Afoa, Boric, Thomson, Weepu, Donald, Toeava.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa)




see also
NZ inflict record rout on Samoa
03 Sep 08 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 53-8 Australia
31 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 15-27 Australia
23 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 0-19 New Zealand
16 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
Springboks thump sorry Argentina
09 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 39-10 Australia
02 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
Australia 34-19 New Zealand
26 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
Australia 16-9 South Africa
19 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 28-30 South Africa
12 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 19-8 South Africa
05 Jul 08 |  Rugby Union


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