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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 July, 2004, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
NZ 16-7 Australia
MATCH DETAILS
New Zealand's Doug Howlett evades Justin Harrison's challenge
New Zealand 16 (3)
Try: Howlett
Con: Carter
Pens: Carter (3)
Australia 7 (0)
Try: Mortlock
Con: Giteau
New Zealand ground down Australia in appallingly wet and windy conditions in Wellington to win the opening match of the Tri-Nations series.

The All Blacks dominated possession but Daniel Carter's penalty was the only score of the first half.

Doug Howlett's try finally made home pressure count after 62 minutes.

Stirling Mortlock crossed over after Joe Rokocoko dropped the ball in front of the posts as Australia rallied but New Zealand held on for a deserved win.

The rain driving aross the Westpac Stadium for the 101st Bledisloe Cup clash created problems from the opening whistle with Stephen Larkham slicing his kick-off.

The players struggled to control the ball and the result was a dour and error-strewn first half with matters not helped by a whistle-happy referee.

Carter's penalty finally opened the scoring after 34 minutes and put New Zealand ahead but Australia continued to defend staunchly.

However, the match came to life after the break with hookers Keven Mealamu and Brendan Cannon sinbinned for sparking a brawl.

We we won the game convincingly in territory and possession
Graham Henry, NZ coach
New Zealand continued to press and finally - after Carter had landed another penalty - managed to feed Howlett on the right and the winger touched down for a straightforward effort.

The All Blacks looked poised to run away with the match but Australia somewhow withstood yet more pressure.

And on practically their first second-half foray into the New Zealand half, they were rewarded with a try.

Matt Giteau sent up an huge up-and-under which Rokocoko dropped, allowing Mortlock to slide over the try-line.

That gave Australia hope but New Zealand weathered their brief rally and Carter extended their lead with a penalty just before the final hooter.


New Zealand: Muliaina, Howlett, Umaga, Carter, Rokocoko, Spencer, Marshall, Meeuws, Mealamu, Hayman, Jack, Maling, Gibbes, Holah, Rush.
Replacements: Hore, Somerville, Collins, Newby, Kelleher, Evans, Tuitupou.

Australia: Latham, Rathbone, Mortlock, Giteau, Tuqiri, Larkham, Whitaker, Young, Cannon, Baxter, Harrison, Sharpe, Samo, Waugh, Lyons.
Replacements: Paul, Dunning, Vickerman, Smith, Henjak, Burke, Sailor.

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland)




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