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Sunday, 16 July, 2000, 10:58 GMT
One of the greats
New Zealand
Victory: New Zealand celebrate their 39-35 victory over Australia
BBC Sport Online's Robin Scott-Elliot reports on one of the greatest games in Tri-Nations history.

The world champions - with ten straight test victories behind them - against the game's traditional power. Ten tries, 74 points, the result in doubt until the very last and all before a world record crowd for the sport.

Just how good was New Zealand's remarkable 39-35 defeat of Australia in the opening Tri Nations contest?

Australia's captain John Eales was left in little doubt as to the game's place in history.

"I doubt if there's ever been a better or more remarkable game of rugby ever played," he said.

"It was a fitting game for a world record crowd and in all my years of playing I have never seen a game like that."

The All Blacks took nine minutes to open a 24 point lead; by half time the scores were level; with seven minutes remaining Australia thrilled the 109,874 crowd in Sydney's Olympic Stadium by taking a 35-34 lead; two minutes from the end Jonah Lomu thundered over and the game was New Zealand's.

PIta Alatini
Pita Alatini scores

"It was a great occasion, a truly great game of rugby," said New Zealand captain Todd Blackadder. "It was a game that was in the balance all the way to the end."


Rod McQueen, the Wallabies coach, was torn between the result and the performance.

"There's a sense of achievement and pride in a lot of things, but a real feeling of frustration and flatness," he reflected.

McQueen may have to do without fly half Stephen Larkham for their next game, against South Africa on July 29, after he suffered a ligament strain in a knee.

Also injured, but less of a concern are centres Daniel Herbert and Jason Little, full back Chris Latham and forwards David Griffin and Glenn Panoho.


No such worries for New Zealand who are understandably euphoric as they begin preparations for Saturday's meeting with South Africa.

For Blackadder's predecessor Taine Randell it was a victory to savour.

It was his pass that freed Lomu for the match winning score and it left him a happy - and relieved - man.

It was a great occasion and boy it was great to win
  New Zealand's Taine Randell

"Irrespective of what's happened in the past, this was just a great game to be part of," he said. "It was a great occasion and boy it was great to win."

His relief was understandable as it was Randell who captained New Zealand in the World Cup and lost his job as a result of their semi-final defeat.

Amid all the southern hemisphere back slapping and hyperbole that followed this game, that stunning 43-31 victory by France went almost ignored.

It is not an event the All Blacks care to recall but at least now they have a classic to look back on where the result went in their favour.

Oh this is ridiculous
  All Black Anton Oliver

"It was unexplainable," said All Black hooker Anton Oliver. "Everyone who was there just thought it was freakish.

"It was kind of surreal standing out there amongst it and saying: oh what's going on, this is ridiculous!"

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See also:

15 Jul 00 |  Rugby Union
Lomu clinches Tri-Nations epic
14 Jul 00 |  Rugby Union
Kiwis tough to beat
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