Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wallabies down All Blacks in Tri-Nations finale

Keven Mealamu of the All Blacks is tackled by Digby Ioane and Dan Vickerman of the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images
Keven Mealamu of the All Blacks is tackled by Digby Ioane and Dan Vickerman of the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies 25 All Blacks 20

All the recent optimism about the All Blacks took a repeat hit tonight as they fell to the Wallabies and conceded the Tri-Nations trophy.

This time it was the Wallabies handing out the messages as they triumphed 25-20 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

It was a rugged forward encounter where the Wallaby pack stunned their rivals and laid the foundation for just their third win in 15 attempts under coach Robbie Deans.

The All Blacks battled hard to level the game with the last quarter to run but a piece of Will Genia magic on his home track stole the game away from the visitors.

The Wallabies shot out a handy 20-3 lead at the break after applying most of the pressure as the All Blacks struggled with injuries and a high error rate.

A dozen tackles were missed in the first 25 minutes as the Wallabies kept up relentless attacks against a very listless New Zealand team.

Wallaby halfback Genia nailed the first try when he sniped round a breakdown after waves of attacks near the goaline before giant No 8 Radike Samoa claimed the try of the night.

He blasted through Adam Thomson's tackle then kept his pace for 60m to beat the closing tackles from Mils Muliaina and Daniel Carter.

There was another close miss when Adam Ashley-Cooper was held up in a double tackle over the line.

The All Blacks were forced into some major forward rearrangements with Kieran Read off with an injured left ankle inside 10 minutes and Thomson departing with a damaged arm.

Captain Richie McCaw damaged his back early but stayed on though clearly he too was inhibited.

The All Blacks opening half output was their sloppiest all season and not the mark they wanted to leave for themselves or messages to their supporters in the shadow of the World Cup.

Thomson's defence was exposed regularly, Zac Guildford was shaky under the high ball and his confidence ebbed away until he was subbed.

The forwards were lacklustre and failed to create any sort of headway until after the break.

After a savage halftime coaching message the All Blacks upped their game and had drawn level after the third quarter.

They ramped up the security of their forward drives and finally showed some of the patience which had been so lacking.

That persistence delivered as their relentless work bit into a dogged Wallaby defence line for Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu to both score as the tackle line broke.

Just as the All Blacks seemed to be rolling over the top of their hosts, Genia broke the line found Digby Ioane in critical support then Kurtley Beale who snaked to the line.

Quade Cooper missed the conversion and a penalty as the game went into its last 10 minutes. Eventually they were not fatal misses but it was an anxious last watch for 51,000 crowd.

AUSTRALIA 25 (Kurtley Beale, Will Genia, Radike Samo tries Quade Cooper 2 cons 2 pens) bt NEW ZEALAND 20 (Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith tries Daniel Carter 2 cons 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Wayne Barnes. Crowd: 51,858.

- APNZ

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