New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter missed a drop goal with the last kick of the match as the All Blacks’ winning streak was brought to an end at 16 matches in an 18-18 draw with Australia yesterday.
The world champions, who had been chasing a record-equaling 17th straight victory, had a chance to steal the spoils in an extraordinary end to the contest but Carter, who kicked six penalties, steered the ball right of the posts.
Australia, whose points came from five Mike Harris penalties and a long-range effort from Kurtley Beale, also had a chance to win the match after the 80 minutes were up only to be penalized as they went through the phases inside the visitors’ half.
The match was the third Test in the Bledisloe Cup series, which the All Blacks won courtesy of their victories in the first two Tests of the Rugby Championship. The All Blacks had opened the proceedings with the “throat-cutting” version of the haka in honor of hooker Keven Mealamu’s 100th Test cap, but the Wallabies soon made it clear they were not going to play to the visitors’ script.
Full-back Harris gave them the lead after just two minutes when the All Blacks were penalized for not rolling away from the tackle area.
Carter made no mistake with his first two penalty attempts to give New Zealand the lead but nine more points from the boot of Harris gave the home side an unlikely advantage.
All the offenses were in the tackle area and referee Craig Joubert warned Richie McCaw after the third that he would sin-bin the next offender.
The South African was true to his word and prop Tony Woodcock was shown the yellow card a minute before the break with the home side 12-6 ahead.
Woodcock had just returned when Beale boomed a penalty over from inside his own half to extend the lead to 15-6 but Carter, who had missed his two previous attempts, narrowed the deficit with two penalties in the next six minutes.
The latter offense had seen Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper sin-binned for tackling Aaron Smith off the ball and it looked like the All Blacks might impose themselves on the contest.
Carter duly leveled and then put them ahead with his sixth penalty 10 minutes from time but the Wallabies hit back with Harris’ fifth four minutes later to set up the dramatic climax and just the sixth drawn Test between the nations.
“It’s a bit of a weird one, a draw. You don’t know whether to be relieved or what,” All Blacks captain McCaw said. “I suppose if we reflect on it, we struggled to get any ball to play with and the Wallabies certainly had line speed and forced us into errors.”
“It was, I suppose, good that we at least hung in there and gave ourselves a chance at the end,” he said. “I think if you reflect on it we were perhaps beaten in the vital parts and just the momentum really.”