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Andrew Mehrtens
"We couldn't have asked for more in the first 15 minutes"
 real 14k

Christian Cullen
"We're looking forward to playing the Aussies in Wellington"
 real 14k

John Eales
"We had to knuckle down and face the music"
 real 14k

Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Lomu clinches Tri-Nations epic
Jonah Lomu
Match-winner: Lomu leaves Australia in his wake
Australia 35-39 New Zealand

An injury-time try from Jonah Lomu earned New Zealand a stunning victory over arch rivals Australia in Sydney.

A world record crowd of 109,874 at Stadium Australia were treated to a thrilling Tri-Nations contest that will go down in rugby folklore as one of the sport's all-time great games.

The All Blacks began at breakneck speed and burst into a 24-0 lead after just five minutes.

  Australia scores
Tries: Mortlock (2), Latham, Roff, Paul
Conversions: Mortlock (2)
Penalties: Mortlock (2)
But Australia immediately started a brilliant fightback. By half-time they had levelled the scores and they looked to have won a see-saw match when a try from replacement Jeremy Paul gave them the lead in the dying moments.

  New Zealand scores
Tries: Umaga, Alatini, Cullen, Marshall, Lomu.
Conversions: Mehrtens (4)
Penalties: Mehrtens (2)
Lomu, the world's most famous player, was to have the final word, though - as New Zealand prevented Australia from claiming a record 11th straight win.

The result gives the Kiwis the perfect start to their Tri-Nations campaign, with South Africa their next opponents on Saturday 22 July.

Awesome opening

The All Blacks stunned their hosts with an astonishing opening salvo.

Three tries in the first five minutes left Australia utterly shellshocked.

Chris Latham
Chris Latham leads the Aussie fightback
Tana Umaga started the rout with a burst through the middle after Aussie full-back Chris Latham had failed to hold a high ball.

Centre Pita Alatini claimed the Kiwis' second, after good work from Lomu. and free-running full-back Christian Cullen made it a quickfire try treble.

Andrew Mehrtens converted all three and added a penalty for good measure, with New Zealand scarcely able to believe the scoreline.

Facing a 24-0 deficit after just six minutes, Australia looked to be out of the game.

Fightback time

But the World Champions showed they are nothing if not resolute, by regrouping and launching a superb comeback.

The Aussies, inspired by livewire No.8 Jim Williams and new star wing Stirling Mortlock, quickly regained possession - and then proceeded to keep hold of the ball for the remainder of the first half as they gradually ate away at the All Blacks' huge lead.

Ieremia and Cullen
Off to a flyer: Kiwis Ieremia and Cullen can hardly believe the start
Mortlock scrambled over for two tries, the first a sprint down the right flank, followed by a charge over the line after a burst from Williams had New Zealand back-pedalling.

The momentum was now with Australia and Latham broke free of Kees Meuws' tackle to power over from close range after Larkham, Dan Herbert and George Gregan had combined to set up an opening.

Wing Joe Roff then squirmed over to make it 24-24 at half-time - and leave the stadium grateful for a chance to catch its breath.

Aussies in front

Seven minutes after the break Australia's long haul back looked to be complete as they took the lead for the first time in the match, courtesy of a Mortlock penalty.

But if the home crowd thought that it was time to start celebrating, they were wrong.

Now it was New Zealand's turn to strike back in emphatic fashion, scrum-half Justin Marshall scoring a superb individual try straight from the re-start, as he embarked on a searing diagonal run through the Australian ranks.

With time ticking away, Gregan brought Australia right to the All Black line - and the ball was recycled to replacement Paul, who dived over in the right-hand corner.

That looked to be that - but deep into injury time Lomu at last found some space on the left wing and raced over for the dramatic winner.

The final whistle brought a collective sigh of relief from New Zealand, who were able at last to shrug off their World Cup failure with a Bledisloe consolation.


Australia: Chris Latham; Stirling Mortlock, Daniel Herbert, Jason Little, Joe Roff; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan; Richard Harry, Michael Foley, Fletcher Dyson, David Giffin, John Eales (capt), Mark Connors, David Wilson, Jim Williams.
Replacements: Rod Kafer, Andrew Walker, Sam Cordingley, Toutai Kefu, Troy Jaques, Glenn Panoho, Jeremy Paul.

New Zealand: Christian Cullen; Tana Umaga, Alama Ieremia, Pita Alatini, Jonah Lomu; Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall; Carl Hoeft, Anton Oliver, Kees Meeuws, Todd Blackadder (capt), Norm Maxwell, Taine Randell, Scott Robertson, Ron Cribb.
Replacements: Leon MacDonald, Tony Brown, Byron Kelleher, Josh Kronfeld, Troy Flavell, Craig Dowd, Mark Hammett.

Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa).

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Little in, Kronfeld out
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