NEWS

Australia sends Twickenham warning with Bledisloe Cup win

October 24, 2017

Australia will be travelling to England in good heart before next month's Old Mutual autumn International at Twickenham, following a rare win over New Zealand.

Until now, the Wallabies have endured another difficult southern hemisphere rugby season in the shadow of their brilliant neighbours across the Tasman. The All Blacks scored 54 points against the Aussies in their opening 2017 Rugby Championship encounter in Sydney and followed this with a second victory in Dunedin, albeit by the narrower margin of 35-29.

However, at the weekend, Australia finally gained some cheer at Brisbane in the season's third and final Bledisloe Cup encounter, winning 23-18.

The All Blacks had dominated the early stages of the game, but it was Reece Hodge who opened the scoring with a 70-metre breakaway try for the hosts. 

With the try going unconverted, New Zealand were then able to level the match when Waisake Naholo crossed the line before Lima Sopoaga kicked the extras to put them in front. 

Two more Sopogoa kicks extended the lead, but shortly before half-time Michael Chieka's side got back in the match with an Israel Folau try, leaving the All Blacks ahead by just a point at the interval. 

Marika Koroibete then scored the try that put Australia ahead, with the boot of Reece Hodge extending the lead. Rieko Ioane scored a second try for New Zealand to cut the deficit, but with just two minutes to go Hodge held his nerve and landed a 53-metre penalty to give the home side only their second win over New Zealand in 19 attempts, a list that includes the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. 

While New Zealand's two earlier wins meant the All Blacks won the Bledisloe Cup for the 15th year in a row, the Wallabies will now hope they can at least end 2017 on a high by following up this win with a successful visit to the northern hemisphere.

Speaking after the game, Chieka said: "As enjoyable as it was, the disappointment of not winning the cup still resonates. We know New Zealand are going to only get better and we've got to keep improving as well."

All Blacks Coach Steve Hanson acknowledged that, on this occasion, Australia were the better side. He remarked: "They took their opportunities, put us under pressure as well and prevented us taking ours."

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the game at Twickenham on November 18th may be even more excited about the encounter now. So far in Eddies Jones' reign, England have dominated the Australians, beating them at home after an unprecedented 3-0 whitewash down under on last year's summer tour. However, the tourists now have a reason to go into the game with confidence. 

Before playing at Twickenham, Australia will face Japan in Yokohama on November 4th and Wales in Cardiff on November 11th. After facing England, they will finish their tour against Scotland at Murrayfield. 
 
England will open their own campaign on November 11th against an Argentina side keen to improve after finishing last in the Rugby Championship. Samoa provide their other opponents on November 25th.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription 

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