Trailing by 14 points at half-time, New Zealand narrowly beat Australia 23-20 on Saturday in Dunedin, almost a month before the Rugby World Cup in France (September 8-October 28).
A week after their thrashing of the Australians (38-7) in the Rugby Championship, the New Zealanders this time had to rely on a last-minute penalty to win the second Bledisloe Cup Test.
Trailing 17-3 at half-time, the All Blacks responded by scoring two tries in the second half thanks to debutants Shaun Stevenson and Samibini Finau and were awarded a 79th-minute penalty by Richie Mo’unga.
“It was a real test… We showed our composure and commitment to get back into the game when we were under pressure,” said Sam Kane, the team’s captain, as the Lions maintained their 11-match unbeaten run.
The Wallabies, who are yet to win under Eddie Jones since his return to charge this year, produced an encouraging performance.
While New Zealand coach Ian Foster made 12 changes, Jones made far fewer changes to his 15th team despite the harsh setback he suffered last week in Melbourne.
Led by new captain Tate McDermott, the Australians scored two tries in the first seven minutes and believed they would secure their first win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since 2001.
The first try was scored by winger Marika Koroipet (3rd), before Tom Hooper hit the nail on the head a few minutes later (7th). Carter Gordon, 22, who favored Quade Cooper, gave more scope to the Wallabies’ perfect start by converting two tries and adding a penalty. The New Zealanders were only awarded a penalty by Damian McKenzie for eating.
After the break, the All Blacks showed more intensity and found more cohesion, with Stevenson trying to score a corner kick (44th minute) before a penalty kick by Mo’unga pulled one back. Gordon missed the chance to restore the Wallabies’ lead when his penalty hit the post.
But Finau allowed blacks to take advantage (63). However, Cooper brought the teams back level with a penalty kick of around 50 meters before Monga finally gave his side victory.
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