The All Blacks came from behind to break Wallaby hearts in Brisbane and claim a dramatic 29-28 victory at Suncorp Stadium. To add to the misery, it was revealed post match that Wallaby head coach Ewen McKenzie has resigned with immediate effect.
In what was another classic match between the two sides, the Wallabies came within minutes of a famous victory over the world champions, and what would have been back to back losses for Bledisloe Cup holders.
Their late comback, sealed with a Malakai Fekitoa try and Colin Slade conversion, put an end to what should have been a momentous occasion for 100th Test cap earner, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The centurion crossed for one of the Wallabies three tries, while the All Blacks scored four of their own, and came back from being 25-15 down. Aaron Smith brought them closer and then with the clock ticking down, and the score 28-22 in favour of the home side, the match looked out of reach.
Eventually impressive centre Fekitoa crossed, giving Slade, who is now the fourth choice flyhalf in New Zealand, and opportunity to slot the conversion and win the match, with time up.
After the match it was announced that coach McKenzie, who has been under immense pressure of late with the Kurtley Beale issues and speculation about his relationship with the team’s former business manager, has resigned.
“I did not ask Ewen to resign, but understand his decision. He informed me this morning of his intention to resign, regardless of tonight’s result,” said Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver.
“We sincerely wish Ewen well for the future professionally and personally.”
The Wallabies leave this coming Friday for a testing end of year tour that sees them face the Barbarians, then Wales, France, Ireland and England. So they have a busy week of planning ahead.
“We hope to have the new Head Coach in place before the team leaves for the Spring Tour on Friday,” added Pulver, who hinted that media pressure is what caused McKenzie to resign.
“Criteria for the role includes identifying a coach who can lead us to victory in next year’s Rugby World Cup; represents Rugby’s core values; has the support of the playing group; and is available.”
Availability might turn out to be the most important factor over the next few days.