Bledisloe Cup 2012 Fulltime result: Wallabies, All Blacks draw 18-18
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Wallabies coach Robbie Deans prior to the Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and New Zealand. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
The Wallabies and All Blacks have drawn the final Bledisloe Cup match of 2012 in Brisbane, with both sides having final desperate opportunities after the siren to break an 18-all deadlock.
Kiwi-turned-Australian radar boot Mike Harris kicked the Wallabies to arguably the most honourable draw in their Test history on Saturday night by denying the All Blacks a Bledisloe whitewash at Suncorp Stadium.
Harris slotted five penalty goals from as many attempts and coolly kicked the final three-pointer in the thrilling dying minutes as the Wallabies drew 18-l8 with the world champions.
In a nail-biting finish where the result could have gone either way, All Blacks maestro Dan Carter narrowly missed a match-winning field goal four minutes after the hooter sounded.
It denied New Zealand a record-equalling 17th straight Test win.
Despite being a tryless affair, the sell-out 51,888 crowd was captivated by the ebbs and flows of an encounter both sides looked set to clinch at different times.
The injury-ravaged Wallabies, 13-point underdogs, had threatened to produce one of the biggest upsets in Australian Test history when they led 15-6 after 50 minutes.
But the momentum turned viciously as flanker Michael Hooper was sin-binned and Carter kicked four straight penalties to grab a three-point lead with 10 minutes left.
While Auckland product and former New Zealand Under-20 playmaker Harris, playing his first trans-Tasman Test for Australia, levelled the scores with five minutes left, Australia desperately tried to seal the result.
They set up for a field goal of their own through countless pick-and-drives in the All Blacks quarter but Kurtley Beale never got the chance for a heroic attempt as prop Sekope Kepu was penalised for leaving his feet.
Expected to be easy meat for a full-strength Kiwi outfit eying a record-equalling streak, Australia aimed up in a stirring first-half effort.
It was a night where almost everything rolled the right way for the Wallabies, who were far more proactive than the first two Bledisloe Tests, in the first 50 minutes.
Carter missed two penalty attempts he’d normally bury, the All Blacks wasted gilt-edged attacking opportunities through poor handling and the Wallabies won the breakdown battle.
But their inability to punish the All Blacks early in the second half when prop Tony Woodcock was sin-binned was a telling sign.
Kiwi No.8 Kieran Read was a justified man-of-the-match while Beale was Australia’s most dangerous player and skipper Nathan Sharpe starred in his final match on home soil.
In a sometimes heated clash, Richie McCaw was singled out for special treatment from Wallabies flanker Scott Higginbotham, who could be in trouble post-match after kneeing and head-butting the All Blacks skipper.
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