Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 24 News List

All Blacks sing in the rain after victory over Aussies


All Black captain Tana Umaga holds up the Bledisloe Cup after their Tri-Nations match against the Wallabies at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, yesterday. New Zealand won the match 16-7.


Doug Howlett scored a try and Daniel Carter kicked four goals from six attempts yesterday as New Zealand beat Australia 16-7 in a rain-soaked rugby international.

Howlett crossed Australia's line in the 62nd minute of a turbulent match to ensure New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup and give the All Blacks credit for dominating territory and possession.

Carter kicked a 33rd-minute penalty -- the only points of the first half -- another from an all-in brawl in the 45th minute and a clincher in the dying moments after Australia had struck back with a try.

Carter's angled conversion of Howlett's try completed New Zealand's scoring.

Center Stirling Mortlock scored a try 10 minutes from fulltime, from one of Australia's few ventures into New Zealand's half, and Matt Giteau added a conversion -- his only shot on goal.

The try brought Australia within six points of New Zealand, but Carter's last goal sealed the match and allowed the All Blacks to make a winning start to their defense of the Tri-Nations crown.

New Zealand had scored 19 tries in four test wins this season, but conditions Saturday forced them to rely on a more conservative style -- by trying to control possession and dominate territory.

They produced both of those qualities though their progress to victory was slowed by Australia's strong defense.

"We just tried to keep applying the pressure," said All Blacks captain Tana Umaga. "We wanted to put it on for the whole 80 minutes and we did except for one instance when we let them get in behind us.

"We felt if we could just keep doing that the points would come," Umaga added. "They didn't come very fast but they were there in the end."


* New Zealand 16 (Doug Howlett try; Daniel Carter 3 penalties, conversion)

* Australia 7 (Stirling Mortlock try; Matt Giteau conversion)

The All Blacks spent 81 percent of the first half and 84 percent of the second in Australia's half, winning almost 70 percent of possession overall. They spent 30 minutes of the match within Australia's 22, but they were frustrated by an unyielding Wallabies defensive line.

Torrential rain, which caused flooding in northern parts of New Zealand, fell throughout the match and reduced the contest to one of tense set pieces, tight driving, scrambling defense and tactical kicking.

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