Australia 25, New Zealand 20 in Brisbane (Tri Nations; Bledisloe Cup)
England 20, Ireland 9 in Dublin (World Cup Warm-up)
The test in Brisbane was an exciting game. One team dominated, built up a handy lead, for the other to storm back and look like winning but to just miss out.
Australia broke a long drought of victories against the All Blacks (excluding the win in Hong Kong last year) to take the Tri Nations for the first time since 2001. It was the same scenario as the result in Auckland earlier in the month, except this time it was Australia who, but for a period at the beginning of the second half, dictated play.
All the tries were superb efforts. Genia’s early try was excellent, 35 year-old Radiki Samo stamped his name into the history books of Trans-Tasman rugby with a brilliant solo try, Will Genia, was in action again, setting up a try to Kurtley Beale which was breath-taking, and Kiwi Ma’a Nonu’s try, who cut through a slither of a gap to score near the posts, were all tries that will be talked about for years.
Australia went into the second half with a 20-3 lead. They dominated play for most of the first half, exerting considerable pressure on the Kiwis. What little ball the All Blacks got they were forced into errors and turn-over ball.
Then the All Blacks stormed home at the beginning of the second half. So much did they dominate that period, playing mostly pick-and-drive play close to the rucks, they gradually whittled away the lead to close up to 20-20 with a superb Nonu try. As in Auckland the opposition scored immediately afterwards and although play sea-sawed excitedly for the remainder of the half, with New Zealand applying great pressure, the Australians held out for a memorable victory.
So what can we read into this result? Firstly New Zealand are beatable. Secondly, this was an excellent performance by Australia, thirdly, the All Blacks looked easily rattled, and finally, the All Blacks are going into this World Cup with two successive losses. Is that a worry or a blessing? Oh, so much to look forwards to.
Incidentally, I will be in NZ for the pool stages and will be relying on friends, family and internet computers to keep the World Cup alive on my blog and my web site. Not sure how successful that will be but to have my own personal internet access over in NZ is just too expensive.
An the other game? ‘Praga’ from planet-rugby’s forum says this.. “Yeah...Well while you lucky divils were watchin that [NZ v Australia] I was watchin the Ireland England ..ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”. This was a scrappy game, which became scrappier as the game and rain progressed. England scored 2 tries to nil, and dominated play for much of the game. Ireland had their moments but nothing that really threatened the English line. Ireland now have lost four tests in a row and England broke their long drought of losses to Ireland. Apart from that it was..well, a little boring.