Sunday, September 14, 2008
The All blacks came back from trailing at halftime to claim their ninth Tri Nations title and their fourth in a row when they beat the Wallabies 28-24 in a thrilling deciding match in Brisbane on Saturday.
Three converted tries in the second half devastated a tired looking Australian side that battled bravely throughout and had a real chance of snatching it at the death.
Flyhalf Dan Carter scored the winning try with 12 minutes left to seal the victory, although Australia kept the 52,000 Suncorp fans on the edge of their seats when centre Ryan Cross crashed over with two minutes to go to get to within four points.
It was too little too late though as New Zealand grabbed both the Tri Nations title and the Bledisloe Cup, much to the delight of the large New Zealand contingent in the crowd.
Coach Graham Henry said his side had shown enormous character to beat an inspired Australian outfit.
"I've just got a huge amount of respect for what the guys did out there tonight. They were down 17-7 and showed a lot of togetherness and guts to come back from that," he said.
It was New Zealand's third consecutive Tri Nations Test win after Auckland and Cape Town, all three achieved with the same starting 15.
The success highlights the incredible depth of New Zealand rugby, with half of last year's World cup squad including Carl Hayman, Chris Jack, Aaron Mauger, Luke McAlister, Doug Howlett and Byron Kelleher, all having left to play overseas.