New Zealand 23-20 Australia: All Blacks fight back for dramatic win


Richie Mo'unga's late penalty saw New Zealand to victory
Richie Mo’unga’s late penalty gave New Zealand the victory
New Zealand (3) 23
Tries: Stevenson, Finau Cons: McKenzie, Finau Pens: McKenzie, Mo’unga 2
Australia (17) 20
Tries: Koroibete, Hooper Cons: Gordon 2 Pens: Gordon, Hooper

New Zealand staged a dramatic comeback to beat Australia 23-20 in their final home Test before the Rugby World Cup.

Behind 17-3 at half-time in Dunedin, the hosts sealed victory with a 79th-minute penalty from Richie Mo’unga after two second-half tries.

New Zealand beat the Wallabies 38-17 in Melbourne last week to win their third Rugby Championship in a row.

Former England head coach Eddie Jones has still to win a game since taking charge of Australia.

The All Blacks’ 22-year winning streak against the Wallabies on home soil was in peril after the visitors dominated early at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

But tries for debutants Shaun Stevenson and Samipeni Finau enabled New Zealand to storm back into the game, before Mo’unga sealed a 2-0 Bledisloe Cup series win with a well-taken kick from a tight angle.

It was an agonising finish for Australia, coming after they were beaten 38-7 by the All Blacks in Melbourne a week ago.

“Yeah, absolutely gutted,” said Australia captain Tate McDermott. “Obviously not happy with it, but from where we were last week to where we are now a massive step up. A huge improvement.”

New Zealand captain Sam Cane conceded the All Blacks had been pushed to the limit.

“That was a proper Test match,” he said. “They were firing all the shots in the first half, to be fair, we were just hanging in there. They took it to us in a big way.”

The visitors made a flying start, scoring two tries in the first seven minutes to take a 14-0 lead.

Quick hands put Marika Koroibete across in the third minute and Tom Hooper barged over at the same left corner after flattening Damian McKenzie in a thunderous run.

Both teams had early casualties; Queensland Reds hooker Matt Faessler making his Test debut for Australia when Dave Porecki came off for a head injury assessment.

New Zealand lost Brodie Retallick with an apparent knee problem in the 26th minute, but their old guard stepped up in his absence, with Sam Whitelock and Ardie Savea combining to save a try when stand-in captain McDermott made a dart for the right corner.

The hosts fought back with Stevenson going over at the right corner four minutes after the restart.

A Mo’unga penalty trimmed the deficit to four points, before Finau’s try put the All Blacks ahead.

Australia’s Quade Cooper drilled a long-range to level the score at 20-20.

But with three minutes left, Cooper knocked the ball on to give New Zealand the scrum.

They dominated the set-piece to win penalty advantage, allowing Mo’unga the chance for his winning kick.

New Zealand have now won all four of their Tests this season against Argentina, South Africa and Australia (twice).

The Wallabies, who appointed former England head coach Jones in January, have lost all four against the same teams but will take some heart from their performance on Saturday.

The Rugby World Cup starts on 8 September when hosts France face New Zealand.


New Zealand: Jordan, Stevenson, Ennor, Lienert-Brown, Fainga’anuku, McKenzie, Christie, Savea, Cane (capt), Finau, Whitelock, Retallick, Laulala, Taukei’aho, Williams.

Replacements: Coles, Tuungafasi, Newell, Vaa’i, Jacobson, Smith, Mo’unga, McLeod.

Australia: Kellaway, Nawaqanitawase, Petaia, Kerevi, Koroibete, Gordon, McDermott (capt), Valetini, Hooper, McReight, Arnold, Frost, Fa’amausili, Porecki ,Bell.

Replacements: Faessler, Slipper, Nonggorr, Skelton, Leota, White, Cooper, Perese.

Referee: Karl Dickson

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