Draw leaves Aus and NZ 'frustrated'
Sat, 20 Oct 2012 13:23
It was one of the ugliest games that I've been involved in
Dan Carter missed a drop-goal attempt six minutes after the final siren as the Wallabies ended the All Blacks' winning run.
The 18-all try-less draw in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on Saturday left both teams frustrated.
The World Cup champions were chasing their 17th consecutive victory, but were denied by a spare-parts Wallaby side - missing many of their leading stars through injury.
The Australians looked on target to pull off a boilover with a 15-6 lead after 51 minutes, but the All Blacks fought back to lead 18-15 with nine minutes left.
Then fullback Mike Harris levelled the score minutes later to set up a gripping finale where both sides could taste victory.
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw elected to take a scrum from a penalty deep in New Zealand territory and go after the win - with the clocked having already gone past the regulation 80 minutes.
After driving up-field and setting up for a chance at the winning drop-goal, Carter's attempt sailed just wide of the right post to leave the scores deadlocked.
New Zealand were bidding to join the 1969 All Blacks and 1998 South African Springboks with 17 successive victories but were once again foiled by the Wallabies, who ended New Zealand's unbeaten 15-match run in a 26-24 win in Hong Kong in 2010.
All Black mentor Steve Hansen lamented what he felt was a "poor" performance by his side, but paid tribute to the character they showed to almost pull a win out of the bag.
"We're really, really disappointed - too many avoidable penalties and too many avoidable mistakes," Hansen said.
"It was probably one of the ugliest games of rugby that I've been involved in.
"At the end of the day it's an 18-all draw and obviously they [Australia] are pretty happy about it."
Wallaby coach, Robbie Deans also spoke of his disappointment.
"I suspect the team will be pretty frustrated, because it's a game that we could have won, so we're not happy with the outcome and I'm sure the All Blacks aren't happy either," Deans said.
"I am happy with the way the guys stood up for Sharpie [Nathan Sharpe], he deserves the effort the guys put in," Deans said of the stand-in captain captain's final game on Australia soil.
"We've done a lot of work around the contact zone and we got a lot of pay from that.
"The boys have been working hard and they saw the rewards from that work.
"You've seen how hard it is to score tries in this competition, for every team, which is why having a guy like Mike Harris is good.
"I think the way he's adapted to fullback is impressive, he hasn't played a lot there and he's done very well.
"He was up against a side that is good at isolating full backs and he did very well.
"To keep that All Blacks side try-less is impressive and the guys did a great job to come together and achieve that.
"I think now the guys should re-charge their batteries after some tough Tests. We've got four more Tests coming up, they'll contribute to the world rankings and seeding for the next Rugby World Cup, which is important.”
Sharpe was also full of praise for his teammates.
"We spoke about it during the week that it's about the process and not the outcome," the stand-in skipper said.
"Credit to the All Blacks, they could have kicked the ball but they had a crack and that was great.
"I think we learned in the first encounters that you can't sit back and wait, I think we took it to them.
"Cliffy works very hard away from the game and when he's picked in the team no one bats an eyelid.
"He's a big unit and he stepped up and gave a good 50-60 minutes.
"It's frustrating not to take the points there but I'm proud of the group, what we showed out there was a great deal of character and the boys dug deep for each other and that is very pleasing.
"There's some great guys back in that change room that will take Australian Rugby forward.”
Wallaby flyhalf Kurtley Beale admitted he was thinking about a drop-goal when they were on attack after the final hooter, before conceding a penalty.
"I was lining up, but I had full trust in the boys to keep going forward," Beale said.
"I just had to approach it as a normal game, I couldn't put too much pressure on myself as I had a job to do for my teammates.
"I think it was just really up to us to draw a line in the sand.
"I guess to have the belief in each other and to have trust in your mates for them to get their job done and for you to get your job done.
"I think that started in the game against Argentina and we've taken a lot out of that.
"Nathan has bought the guys together and given us a lot of faith and trust in each other. He's a great leader.”
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