First game on home-soil, and Australia beats the team that everyone thought could not be beaten: New Zealand.
The Tri-Nations (and the Bledisloe Cup!) is officially ‘game on’.
The MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) rocked last night, as led by a super-human effort by skipper Stirling Mortlock, the Wallabies played hard to a man. From down 6-15 down at the half, Australia fought back and kept the All Blacks scoreless in the second half – eventually running out winners 20-15.
So, apparently there ARE chinks in the previously impervious All-Black armor! Only the 4th loss in as many years, the other losses (all to South Africa) ultimately counted for little. But with the World Cup just around the corner, this was a telling defeat. Yes, the vaunted Kiwi team is beatable, and Australia just schooled the world in ‘how’.
Perhaps in a telling lack of disrespect, the All Blacks performed the vicious-looking ‘Kapa o Panga’ Haka rather than the more traditional ‘Ka Mate’. Probably in a response to the add campaign waged in Australia.
The ABs then took the game right to the Australians, the first few minutes displaying the rugby they are both famous & feared for. The first half was all New Zealand, but there were signs that Australia had the ability to trouble them, with the mercurial Stephen Larkham showing speed off the defensive line.
The second half could not have been more diametrically opposed, and it was Australia who came out after the break looking to run. Adam Ashley-Cooper was fantastic – in one passage of play both out-gunning the lightening-quick Rico Gear, and fooling the NZ captain, Richie McCaw with a beautiful side-step, then beating gargantuan Chris Jack for the try. Both Lote Tuqiri & Matt Dunning also shone.
But the true hero of the hour was the Aussie captain, Stirling Mortlock. Mortlock was fantastic in both defense & attack, and was paramount to the Australian win.
A win that sent reverberations around the world – the World Cup is not a foregone conclusion.
Highlights from YouTube…