All Blacks win Bledisloe Cup for 20th year in a row : PlanetRugby

New Zealand secured the Bledisloe Cup for the 20th successive year and consolidated their position at the top of the Rugby Championship table courtesy of a 39-37 triumph over Australia in Melbourne on Thursday.

In a drama-filled contest, in which the result was in the balance until the end, the Wallabies thought they had clinched a stunning comeback victory when Nic White landed a long range penalty in the 78th minute before the All Blacks struck late with the match -winning try from Jordie Barrett in the game’s dying moments.

The teams had momentum at various stages of a brutal encounter which proved costly for both sides. The All Blacks lost the services of their captain, Sam Cane, and David Havili, who both failed HIAs while Quinn Tupaea also limped off with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Wallabies skipper James Slipper and Rob Leota were forced off the field with calf injuries.

In the end, New Zealand outscored their hosts by five tries to four with Samisoni Taukei’aho leading the way with a brace while Richie Mo’unga, Will Jordan and Barrett scored their other five-pointers. Mo’unga also succeeded with four conversions and two penalties to finish with a 19-point haul.

For Australia, Andrew Kellaway (2), Rob Valetini and Pete Samu crossed the whitewash with Bernard Foley adding four conversions and two penalties and White also succeeded with a three-pointer off the kicking tee.

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There was some pre-match drama when the Wallabies lined up in a boomerang shape before advancing on the All Blacks, while they were doing the Haka, but the home side were soon on the back foot as Jed Holloway failed to gather the ball from the kick off. New Zealand went on the attack and set up a lineout drive from which Taukei’aho crossed for the opening try.

Mo’unga added the extras and extended his side’s lead to 10 points when he slotted a penalty before Foley reduced the deficit with a penalty of his own in the 18th minute.

With points on the board, the Wallabies’ confidence grew and midway through the half they thought they had their opening try when Kellaway crossed the whitewash. However, it was ruled out after television replays revealed that Rieko Ioane did brilliantly to get his hands under the ball while the full-back tried to ground it.

Despite that setback, Australia did not panic and shortly afterwards they received a penalty and set up a lineout inside New Zealand’s 22. They launched a maul which was stopped close to the try-line by Dalton Papali’i but the ball was recycled quickly and Valetini dotted down with two defenders on his back.

Papali’i received a yellow card after referee Mathieu Raynal ruled that he had stopped that maul illegally, while Foley slotted the conversion which meant the scores were level and the hosts had a spring in their step during the latter stages of the half.

There was plenty of drama during that period, though, as Tom Wright was yellow carded for a professional foul inside his 22 while Raynal also sent Darcy Swain to the sin bin for taking out Tupaea with a shoulder charge to his knee at a ruck which resulted in the All Blacks center leaving the field for the rest of the match.

The visitors made a fine start to the second half when shortly after the restart Kellaway was caught in possession just inside his half. The All Blacks won a turnover before shifting the ball to Taukei’aho close to the 22-metre line and he did brilliantly to shrug off three defenders on his way over.

Ten minutes later, the Wallabies received another yellow card after Jake Gordon too collapsed a maul illegally in his 22. The All Blacks made full use of their one-man advantage soon after Gordon’s exit with Mo’unga waltzing through the Wallabies’ defense to score his five pointer. Beauden Barrett then delivered a perfectly weighted chip kick which Jordan gathered close to the halfway line before outpacing the cover defense to cross for his team’s fourth try in the 55th minute.

Wallabies fightback before crazy ending

With the score 31-13 in New Zealand’s favour, Australia needed a response and it came in the form of two tries in quick succession from Kellaway after excellent work from Foley on both occasions.

Another Mo’unga penalty gave his team a 34-27 lead before the Wallabies struck back with a brilliant try from Samu out wide with Foley’s superb conversion drawing his side level in the 72nd minute.

The match was far from done, though, as White slotted a 48-metre penalty to give his side an unlikely lead, but there would be a crazy ending when Raynal awarded a penalty to Australia in the 79th minute. That happened close to their try-line but, when Foley took his time to kick for touch, the referee awarded a scrum to the All Blacks after ruling that Foley had wasted time.

From the resulting set-piece, New Zealand launched an attack and the ball was shifted out wide where Barrett crossed in the right-hand corner for the match-winning try.

READ MORE: Springboks: Frans Malherbe and Faf de Klerk preparing for tough Pumas challenge

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