Mon, Nov 17, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Australia's Eddie Jones ends up with the last laugh

AP , SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Eddie Jones said he was laughed at and ridiculed when he tried to explain the deficiencies he saw in the All Blacks defense after his Wallabies lost the Bledisloe Cup in August.

Jones was the one laughing Saturday night after the world champion Wallabies produced the upset that the 2003 World Cup had been missing with a shocking 22-10 win over the All Blacks that sealed another final berth.

It left New Zealand with the unenviable tag of the quadrennial tournament's greatest chokers, slumping to another semifinal defeat four years after its 43-31 loss to the French at Twickenham sent shockwaves through New Zealand.

Asked how he'd developed a bustling, run-at-all-costs game plan that had unsettled the New Zealanders, Jones said he wouldn't bother too much because "last time I tried to do that you laughed at me."

And Jones said Sunday the best was yet to come.

"All I'll say is our performance next week will be better," he said. "That's what we're aiming for, we haven't seen the best of this side yet. We've got to work hard this week, prepare smart and hopefully play better."

On Saturday, captain Reuben Thorne crossed for New Zealand's only try four minutes before halftime to cut the deficit to six points at the interval, but that was as close as the All Blacks got.

Before the match, Thorne joked that the New Zealand economy could crash if the All Blacks lost to Australia.

"I don't know if anyone here would understand. They are pretty much shattered. They've put a lot of work into this," he said. "They're very, very disappointed."

The newspaper reaction Sunday was predictable, with the same media who criticized Jones before the match now jumping on the Wallaby bandwagon.

"Australians All Let Us Rejoice!" said the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, referring to a "miracle" win.

"Wallabies reach promised land," "Good Guys 22, Bad Guys 10," "Glory: Brave Wallabies Into World Cup Final After Breaking Kiwi Spirit."

"The Wallabies believed when almost everyone else had lost the faith -- and last night they delivered their miracle," Peter Jenkins wrote in the Telegraph.

"They had looked ordinary, with weaknesses at the coal face in the pack, and with a back division failing to click. But this morning the same mob are heroes. They have pulled off the ultimate sting."

Stirling Mortlock cracked the match open with a long-range intercept try in the 10th minute and continually broke the New Zealand defense to earn a standing ovation from the 82,444 crowd at Sydney's Olympic stadium when he limped off with cramps in the 72nd minute.

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