Wallabies end 10-match losing streak

By Chris Barclay

The Wallabies 26-24 victory against the All Blacks was just their second under Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images
The Wallabies 26-24 victory against the All Blacks was just their second under Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies 26
All Blacks 24

The mental anguish associated with 10 Bledisloe Cup defeats was finally remedied in injury time at Hong Kong Stadium tonight as James O'Connor was anointed the Wallabies latest rugby hero with a late converted try stunning the All Blacks 26-24.

In a stunning finale to the fourth and final trans-Tasman clash of the year O'Connor powered over to score close to touch - the culmination of five minutes of intense Wallabies pressure as the All Blacks clung frantically to a 24-19 lead.

O'Connor then coolly added the difficult conversion fist-pumping as the ball sailed between the uprights.

He was enveloped seconds later by teammates in scenes reminiscent of Kurtley Beale's last-gasp penalty in Bloemfontein during the Tri-Nations.

The All Blacks were left to rue a missed penalty by replacement first five-eighth Stephen Donald five minutes from fulltime.

Invigorated by Donald's miss from a handy 25-metres the Wallabies swarmed on to the offensive - Beale, David Pocock and Ben McCalman all went desperately close before the defensive screen was finally breached by the pint-sized wing.

The Wallabies victory was just their second under Robbie Deans - and first since the former All Blacks assistant coach opened his Bledisloe Cup rivalry against Graham Henry with in style at Sydney 26 months ago.

A cherished triumph also ended the All Blacks winning sequence at 15 tests, three short of Lithuania's world mark.

It also thwarts their ambitions of becoming the first All Blacks team to complete a season unbeaten since the 1989 vintage won seven straight.

They All Blacks now have to refocus on a third Grand Slam attempt in five years, a task which starts against England in Twickenham on Sunday (NZT).

There will be plenty of soul searching on tomorrow's long journey to London after the Wallabies broke with convention to finish strongly in a nerve-jangling encounter.

History appeared to be repeating itself when the All Blacks recovered from an error-prone start to carry a 17-12 advantage into the second half - a remarkable scenario considering their sloppy opening.

The Wallabies had spent three weeks in camp before departure, the All Blacks just three days and it appeared to be time well spent by the Australians as they played out the opening quarter with ridiculous ease.

Where the Wallabies were cohesive, the All Blacks were clumsy yet they still managed to switch on 10 minutes and constructing tries to Jimmy Cowan and Cory Jane.

Earlier Quade Cooper marked his first test outing against Daniel Carter with a virtuoso try in the seventh minute after the Wallabies bravely turned down a straightforward penalty sensing the All Blacks were struggling to revert to game mode after a six-week lay-off.

Cooper ran wide, teasing the defence before ghosting through Mils Muliaina and Jane to cross wide out.

Giteau could not add the conversion - one of four missed kicks by the second five-eighth and Kurtley Beale that saw 11 potential points go begging.

But unlike in game three in Sydney last month those setbacks were not costly.

Adam Ashley-Cooper engineered the Wallabies second try from halfway in the 22 minute when he the centre powered through Jerome Kaino before surging clear, stepping Jane

and extravagantly swan-diving by the posts to set up a conversion Giteau could not blunder.

Ominously for the Wallabies the All Blacks first attack culminated in points when Cowan burrowed over by the posts shortly after a desperate tackle by Beale held Keven Mealamu up over the line.

Then five minutes later, and five before the break the All Blacks hit the front after a Kieran Read burst down the short side allowed Jane to atone for his defensive lapse when he bounced through Beale.

Carter added the extras and a penalty after the hooter.

The Wallabies also started the second half with purpose though not for as long and when immense captain Richie McCaw surged 30-metres in the lead-up to Ma'a Nonu's waltz to the line the All Blacks seemed in familiar territory on neutral ground with 53 minutes gone.

However, when Carter - in his comeback from ankle surgery - departed as expected on the hour the Wallabies belief grew.

The world's premier first five eight had barely reached the sideline before Isaia Toeava lost his footing to put Beale in open space and Mitchell haring to the corner.

O'Connor stepped up to nail the angled conversion - the first act of his heroic contribution.

Wallabies 26 (Quade Cooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor tries; Matt Giteau con, James O'Conner 2 con)
All Blacks 24 (Jimmy Cowan, Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu tries; Daniel Carter pen 3 con) Halftime: 12-17

- NZPA

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 21 Dec 2014 23:06:41 Processing Time: 390ms