Tri Nations 2010: All Blacks edge Wallabies in Christchurch
New Zealand will have to wait a fortnight for their chance to seal the Tri Nations title despite beating Australia 20-10 in Christchurch.
Tries from Mils Muliaina and Conrad Smith and ten points from the boot of Dan Carter allowed the All Blacks to edge out a much improved Wallabies side, and retain the Bledisloe Cup.
The result leaves New Zealand needing victory over South Africa in Johannesburg on 21 August to seal this year’s title.
Saturday’s match began at a high tempo with both teams displaying a renewed vigour.
The Wallabies were unable take advantage of the early ball in hand despite dominating possession.
Muliaina then made the most of some great running rugby by team-mates Joe Rokocoko and Keven Mealamu to touch down for the first score.
Kurtley Beale, part of Robbie Deans’ shuffled backfield, received possession after sloppy play from Carter and ran straight down the field to level the match.
But it was dejÃƒÂ vu for Deans’ side when they conceded almost immediately, Smith scoring in the corner following a Ma’a Nonu pass.
The two sides then exchanged penalties. New Zealand, so clinical in attack last week, were razor sharp in defence, making twice as many tackles as their opponents.
Once again Australia struggled to turn possession into points, Matt Giteau missing a long penalty chance early on in the second half.
The Wallabies came close to scoring after an All Blacks indiscretion at the line-out gave them a five metre scrum, but once again they could not capitalise.
Piri Weepu could have put it to bed with a long penalty chance falling short after Drew Mitchell broke through a number of tackles only to be turned over.
Carter’s penalty with eight minutes remaining put Australia two scores behind, but New Zealand held out for a fourth straight Tri Nations victory and ninth in a row over the Wallabies.
The tournament is still mathematically open, although the Wallabies would need maximum points and the All Blacks to lose against South Africa for it to go down to points difference.
New Zealand: M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, J Rokocoko; D Carter, P Weepu; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, O Franks, B Thorn, T Donnelly, J Kaino, R McCaw (captain), K Read.
Replacements: C Flynn, B Franks, S Whitelock, V Vito, A Mathewson, A Cruden, B Stanley.
Australia: K Beale; J O’Connor, A Ashley-Cooper, A Faingaa, D Mitchell; M Giteau, W Genia; B Robinson, S Faingaa, S Ma’afu, D Mumm, N Sharpe, R Elsom (captain), D Pocock, R Brown.
Replacements: S Moore, J Slipper, R Simmons, M Hodgson, L Burgess, B Barnes, C Shepherd.