Rugby: Greatest test one of Sydney's showdowns

By Daniel Richardson

The All Blacks will open the Rugby Championship against Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday. With that in mind, Daniel Richardson looks back on five notable tests between New Zealand and their transtasman rivals in Sydney since the turn of the century

Jonah Lomu finishes the job for the All Blacks with a late try in July 2000 in Sydney. Photo / Getty Images
Jonah Lomu finishes the job for the All Blacks with a late try in July 2000 in Sydney. Photo / Getty Images

2000: New Zealand 39 Australia 35

This game is commonly referred to as the "greatest test of all time" and it's hard to argue. The All Blacks shot out to a 24-0 lead after only a few minutes thanks to tries from Tana Umaga, Pita Alatini and Christian Cullen before the Wallabies drew level by halftime. The result wasn't decided until Jonah Lomu finished the job for the All Blacks with a late try. A record crowd of 109,874 were also in attendance.

2003: Australia 22 New Zealand 10

A Stirling Mortlock intercept try knocked the All Blacks out of the 2003 World Cup at the semifinal stage. This game was marred by the controversy over who coach John Mitchell would select at centre and he went with Leon MacDonald who then had an off-night with his goalkicking.

Dan Carter was an unused substitute in this contest. But it was Carlos Spencer's pass, which Mortlock pinched, that is the enduring memory from the game.

Australia would go on to lose to England in the World Cup final.

2009: New Zealand 19 Australia 18

Do you remember when Carter was regularly fit and able to start games at first-five for the All Blacks? Well, when he did he was remarkably clutch with the boot and it was his 78th-minute penalty that sank the Wallabies in this one. Australia led 12-3 at the break but Ma'a Nonu scored the only try of the game in the second spell as the visitors slowly clawed their way back before Carter iced the result. Lock Isaac Ross played only eight tests for the All Blacks and this was one of them.

2010: New Zealand 23 Australia 22

A late Kieran Read try and halfback Piri Weepu kicking a 73rd-minute conversion provided the All Blacks with the victory. Aaron Cruden started this game at No 10 but was notably swamped by a relentless Australian forward pack.

Four years on, the Chiefs pivot has improved out of sight and is now a dangerous player at test level. The greatness of Jerome Kaino was also confirmed in this one as he turned the momentum when he joined the game from the bench with about 20 minutes left.

2012: New Zealand 27 Australia 19

This result probably doesn't jump at many people but the game was memorable for watching Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu in the midfield for the All Blacks. Many people questioned whether the two hard-running second-fives could coexist as a midfield pair but there were no worries on the night. This was also Williams' penultimate test match for the All Blacks before he went back to league. Given Williams' impending return to New Zealand rugby, it won't be long before he is seen in the black jersey again.

- NZ Herald

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