Australia snatches late win over NZ

SYDNEY, Reuters

Matt Burke kicked a penalty goal in the dying seconds as Australia beat New Zealand 16-14 to retain the Bledisloe Cup and keep the Tri-nations series alive on Saturday.

Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe and reserve fullback Mat Rogers scored tries for Australia while flanker Richard McCaw scored New Zealand’s only try in the second half.

Burke had missed a conversion in the 72nd minute which would have given Australia the lead but redeemed himself under enormous pressure before a packed house of 79,543 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.

“We’re obviously very proud of the fact that we hung in there and turned it around,” Australia captain George Gregan said.

It was the third successive year world champions Australia had scored a last-minute victory over their Trans Tasman rivals.

Captain John Eales kicked a penalty goal on fulltime in Wellington for a 24-23 win in 2000 and number eight Toutai Kefu crossed for a late try as the Wallabies triumphed 29-26 in Sydney last year.

Australia retained the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday which they had won back from the All Blacks in 1998.

The Bledisloe Cup was tied one-all after New Zealand won 12-6 in Christchurch on July 13.

Both teams are tied on 10 points in the Tri-nations and will play in South Africa in the next two weeks to complete the series.

Australia had an 8-3 lead at halftime after a try in the 17th minute by Sharpe following an inside ball from flyhalf Stephen Larkham.

Burke added a penalty before flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens opened the scoring for the All Blacks with a penalty goal just before the break.

Mehrtens scored his second penalty shortly after halftime before McCaw swung the match in New Zealand’s favor after seizing on a poor lineout throw by Wallaby hooker Jeremy Paul in the 48th minute.

The All Blacks went further ahead to take a 14-8 advantage when Mehrtens kicked his third penalty in the 63rd minute.

Rogers stepped between two defenders in the 72nd minute to score Australia’s second try of the match but Burke again missed the conversion as the All Blacks clung to a 14-13 lead.

Australia hooker Jeremy Paul had crossed in the 32nd minute from a Wallaby scrum near the line but referee Andre Watson disallowed the try after ruling that prop Patricio Noriega had infringed.