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Last-Gasp Mo’unga Penalty Gives All Blacks Win Over Australia

  • 3 min read

Richie Mo’unga booted a penalty in the last minute to lift the All Blacks to a 23-20 comeback win over a much-improved Australia in Dunedin on Saturday as the hosts extended their perfect season in the lead-up to the World Cup.

In a test of two halves, the All Blacks’ 22-year winning streak against the Wallabies on home soil was in peril after the visitors dominated early at Forsyth Barr Stadium to take a 17-3 lead at halftime.

But tries to debutants Shaun Stevenson and Samipeni Finau saw the All Blacks storm back before Mo’unga sealed the win with a well-taken kick from a tight angle.

Ardie Savea sparked the All Blacks’ rally with a try-saving tackle in the first half and proved a force at the break-down throughout.

“It was tough. We got smacked in the first half. I’m proud of the boys’ efforts coming back in the second half and getting the win,” the back row enforcer said.

The win was New Zealand’s fourth in succession this year and ensured they swept the two-test Bledisloe Cup series against their neighbours.

However, coach Ian Foster’s decision to field a second-string starting side nearly blew up in his face.

Eddie Jones’ Australia were led superbly by stand-in captain Tate McDermott, a week after the Wallabies were smashed 38-7 by the same opponents at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Jones was gutted to fall short on Saturday. He was the last coach to guide Australia to victory over the hosts in New Zealand at the old Carisbrook ground in Dunedin in 2001.

The Wallabies are now 0-4 under Jones in his second stint.

“It’s a bad feeling,” Jones said.

“We should have won that game. We didn’t quite make it but they’re taking steps in the right direction.”

Australia had made a flying start, scoring two tries in the first seven minutes to take a 14-0 lead.

Quick hands put Marika Koroibete across in the third minute and flanker Tom Hooper barged over at the same left corner after flattening Damian McKenzie in a thunderous run.

Both teams had early casualties, with Queensland Reds hooker Matt Faessler making his test debut for the Wallabies when Dave Porecki came off early for a head injury assessment.

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick was off the ground with an apparent knee problem in the 26th minute.

The All Blacks’ old guard stepped up in Retallick’s absence, with Sam Whitelock and Savea combining to save a try when scrumhalf McDermott made a dart for the right corner.

A rare line-out failure by the hosts saw the Wallabies come off with a 14-point lead at the break.

Yet, inevitably, the All Blacks found their range as steady hands Aaron Smith and Mo’unga took over from McKenzie and Finlay Christie in the halves.

Four minutes after the restart, winger Stevenson crossed at the right corner and the All Blacks piled on the pressure.

The Wallabies were lucky when home winger Leicester Fainga’anuku failed to ground the ball under the posts but Mo’unga slotted a penalty to trim the lead to four points.

Finau then nudged the All Blacks in front at the 64th minute, pushing a swarm of tacklers under the posts.

The Wallabies battled to level the game at 20-20 when Quade Cooper drilled a penalty from outside 50 metres amid a chorus of boos.

But with three minutes left, he knocked the ball on to give the All Blacks the scrum.

That was all they needed as the men in black dominated the set-piece to win penalty advantage, paving the way for Mo’unga’s match-winning kick.