The Wallabies powered to the top of the Tri-Nations standings with a pulsating 34-19 victory over New Zealand in a memorable Test match yesterday.
The Australians played superb attacking rugby to score four tries and a bonus point to leapfrog the All Blacks and the world champion Springboks to the tournament lead after two games.
The euphoric victory, only a point off the most ever scored against the All Blacks, was coach Robbie Deans’ fifth straight and a special one against New Zealand counterpart Graham Henry.
New Zealand Rugby Union’s World Cup autopsy after their quarter-final exit last year saw New Zealander Deans rejected as the new All Blacks coach in favor of retaining Henry.
Deans went on to become the Wallabies’ first foreign boss and his side thrilled the near-79,000 home crowd with their adventurous rugby and came after the All Blacks had edged to the front 19-17 five minutes after halftime.
But Australia finished the better with tries to Rocky Elsom and James Horwill clinching a famous victory.
Australia have only scored more points in a Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in their 35-39 loss here in 2000.
The All Blacks went a man down in the sixth minute when lock Brad Thorn was sin-binned by South African referee Craig Joubert for a high tackle on Wallaby fly-half Matt Giteau as Australia were on the attack.
The Wallabies made the under-manned All Blacks pay with center Ryan Cross scoring on his starting debut in the 10th minute after Lote Tuqiri put the Australians on the offensive, beating three tacklers.
From the next ruck, Giteau took a pass close to the ground to send Cross over unopposed.
New Zealand were under immense pressure, but they fought their way back with winger Sitiveni Sivivatu particularly dangerous with the ball.
The All Blacks scored through full-back Mils Muliaina in the 24th minute after he kicked ahead and regathered off a quick tap kick.
But the Wallabies were playing confidently and off a scrum win Adam Ashley-Cooper kicked ahead and Tuqiri was bundled off the ball by Sivivatu, only for winger Peter Hynes to win the chase and score a converted try for a 17-5 lead.
The All Blacks threw caution to the wind, continually opting to take quick tap kicks and were rewarded right on halftime when hooker Andrew Hore charged through three tackles to score off a Sivivatu pass.
Daniel Carter’s conversion kept the All Blacks in the contest, 17-12 at halftime.
Carter kicked the All Blacks in front for the first time 19-17 just minutes after halftime when he sliced through and scrum-half Andy Ellis scored off the ruck.
Tuqiri came desperately close to regathering his kick ahead, only to be denied by replacement scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, but Cowan’s clearing kick failed to find touch, offering Australia another chance to attack.
Flanker Elsom stormed through an opening and brushed off Muliaina’s tackle to score near the posts and Giteau’s conversion retrieved the lead again 24-19 after 55 minutes.
Giteau pushed the Wallabies out to an eight-point lead with a drop goal 13 minutes from time.
Lock Horwill made the game safe for the Wallabies when he plunged over for a try with six minutes to go, with Giteau’s conversion pushing the home side out to a 15-point buffer.
Australia have played second-fiddle to New Zealand — the All Blacks have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003 — and yesterday’s win was only their fourth in their last 10 encounters.
The fierce rivals meet again next Saturday in Auckland.
Team P W L PD PTS
1 Australia 2 2 0 +22 9
2 New Zealand 3 1 2 -6 5
3 South Africa 3 1 2 -16 5