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Wallabies end All Blacks’ winning run with draw

Dan Carter narrowly missed a drop goal after the final siren as the Wallabies ended the All Blacks’ winning run with a fighting 18-18 try-less draw in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on Saturday.

The World Cup champions were chasing their 17th consecutive victory but were held by a gritty Wallabies side, missing many of their leading stars through injury.

The Australians looked set to pull off a boilover with a 15-6 lead, but the All Blacks fought back to lead 18-15 with nine minutes left.

Fullback Mike Harris levelled the scores minutes later with his fifth penalty to set up a gripping finale where both sides had chances to clinch the win.

Skipper Richie McCaw took a scrum from a penalty deep in New Zealand territory to go after the win and after driving up-field and setting up for a chance at the winning drop goal, Carter’s attempt sailed just wide of the right post to leave the scores deadlocked.

New Zealand were bidding to join the 1969 All Blacks and 1998 South African Springboks with 17 successive victories, but were once again foiled by the Wallabies, who ended New Zealand’s unbeaten 15-match run in a 26-24 win in Hong Kong in 2010.

The second-ranked Wallabies were also the last side to beat the All Blacks (25-20) in Brisbane 14 months ago.

“That’s probably been the ugliest game of rugby I’ve been involved in but at the end of the day it’s an 18-all draw and obviously they (Australia) are pretty happy about it,” New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said.

“We’re really disappointed. There were too many avoidable penalties, too many avoidable mistakes, some of those mistakes came from good play from Australia but others didn’t.” Wallabies’ coach Robbie Deans said Australia were frustrated not to have won.

“The players will be pretty frustrated because it was a game we could have won, so we’re not happy with the outcome, but I imagine the All Blacks aren’t either,” Deans said.

“Our defence was great and we have done a lot of work around the contact and we got a lot of pay from that tonight.” Harris kicked all his four penalty goal attempts to give the under-strength Wallabies a 12-6 half-time advantage.

The Wallabies’ blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham could be in hot water with the judiciary after his run-in with All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

Higginbotham appeared to first knee McCaw in the head and then head-butt the All Blacks skipper on the ground. Both players were cautioned by referee Craig Joubert.

Joubert made good on his warning of ‘next one goes’ when he gave All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock a yellow card for repeated ruck infringements on the half-time siren.

Kurtley Beale further lifted the Wallabies’ confidence with a prodigious penalty from just inside his own half for a 15-6 lead.

But Carter kicked his third penalty and the Wallabies lost openside flanker Michael Hooper to the sin bin after taking out Aaron Smith after the All Blacks scrum-half had kicked ahead.

Carter pulled New Zealand to within three points with the resulting penalty in the 56th minute.

Australia lost a lineout on their throw giving the All Blacks possession inside their quarter and they pounded the try-line before they received a penalty for Carter to level the scores at 15-15 with 13 minutes left.

Adam Ashley-Cooper spilled Aaron Cruden’s high kick and Nick Phipps was ruled offside when he picked up the ball to enable Carter to kick his sixth penalty nine minutes from time to edge New Zealand in front. Harris levelled at 18 apiece with his fifth penalty five minutes before time.

AFP

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