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IT'S A DRAW! Bledisloe 1 ends all square

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11th October, 2020
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The All Blacks and Wallabies have played out a thrilling draw in Bledisloe 1, finishing all square at 16-all after an enthralling match.

Reece Hodge had a long-range injury-time penalty to win the game hit the posts, only for another eight minutes of play in which both Australia and New Zealand wasted chances deep in attack to find a win.

The Wallabies managed to recover the ball of Hodge’s attempt, but couldn’t find a way through the All Blacks’ defence even with the try-line mere metres away. The hosts then returned the favour, somehow failing to score even though a typical late try seemed inevitable.

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While the result is far better than what the bookies were tipping for Australia, new coach Dave Rennie was quick to douse suggestions the draw would be treated as any kind of victory, saying his team are still “miles away from where we need to be”.

“We’re disappointed,” he said after full-time. “We’re certainly not celebrating in the changerooms.”

The Wallabies dominated posession right from kick-off, spending more than 60 per cent of the 89 minutes played with the ball in hand, but while they threatened at times in the first half, it was New Zealand who were far more dangerous with ball in hand in the opening stanza.

They crossed the chalk on their first proper journey into Australian territory, Jordie Barrett streaking away down the right to touch down in the corner, although Wallabies fans were quick to point out Reiko Ioane put a foot into touch in the lead-up to the try. However the visitors weren’t blameless either, as a missed lineout had gifted possession to the All Blacks.

The gusty, windy conditions made Barrett’s conversion of his own try too difficult, and made things awfully difficult for kickers and receivers alike; a New Zealand penalty kick for touch went dead, there were a number of knock-ons off kick returns, and at one stage Nic White had a box kick blown so far off course it ended up back in the Australian halfback’s hands.

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Even so, the Wallabies’ lineout woes were inexcusable, with missed throws at both ends of the field first leading to three All Blacks points from an ensuing penalty and later costing them a valuable attacking opportunity.

Folau Fainga’a got his throw right on the stroke of halftime, but the hooker then inexplicably threw the ball away running around the back of the lineout to allow Ioane to score after the siren. Fortunately for Fainga’a and the Wallabies, though, the All Blacks centre had knocked the ball in attempting to ground it, and the teams went into the sheds with New Zealand up 8-3.

That lead was extended to ten points straight after the break. James O’Connor missed a kickable penalty and soon after Aaron Smith had been put away to cross in the corner.

That spurred the Wallabies into finding some tryscoring form. First it was Marika Koroibete getting on the end of a set play off the lineout, capitalising on some lovely lead-up play from O’Connor to finish spectacularly in the corner.

Then it was his opposite, Filipo Daugunu, who crossed next to the right sideline after a ball popped loose from a ruck and White flicked it up to the winger. Consecutive missed conversions had the scores tied up at 13.

Barrett had a chance to put the All Blacks back in the lead but couldn’t kick truly from a penalty 40 metres out straight in front, and after a monster drop-out New Zealand were pinged for not rolling away and O’Connor found the target from the tee to put Australia up by three.

However with just two minutes left it was Australia’s turn to infringe, Rob Simmons penalised for changing his bind at the maul and Barrett made no mistake to tie things up. And even with Hodge’s late attempt and the nerve-wracking madness which followed, that 16-all scoreline is how things would remain at full-time.

All Blacks 16 (J Barrett, Smith tries; J Barrett 0/2 conversions; J Barrett 2/3 penalty goals) drew with Wallabies 16 (Koroibete, Daugunu tries; O’Connor 0/2 conversions; O’Connor 2/3 penalty goals)

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