Aussies claim Tri-Nations crown
Wallabies crowned Tri-Nations kings for first time in a decade
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 28/08/11 10:07am
Samo, the oldest ever Aussie Test player, scored a brilliant try.
Australia ended their 10-year-drought with a 25-20 victory over New Zealand to lift the Tri Nations trophy for the first time since 2001.
Tries from Will Genia, Radike Samo, and Kurtley Beale plus 10 points from the boot of Quade Cooper saw the Wallabies to a famous win at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Australia dominated so completely during the first half that they went into the break with a 20-3 lead over the defending champions.
A spirited second half fightback however, saw the All Blacks claw their way back to level the scores with tries from Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu.
But Beale's try 20 minutes from time proved the difference, as the Wallabies defence held firm in a nail-biting finale to complete a memorable Tri-Nations triumph.
Australia made clear their intentions from the start and, after grabbing the turnover inside the first minute, were soon bombarding the All Black line from inches out.
The pressure paid off with a penalty in the third minute when New Zealand were pinged for diving in at the ruck and Cooper booted the Wallabies into an early lead.
The hosts continued to dominate the opening exchanges and Cooper looked to have put Adam Ashley Cooper over in the 11th minute.
But Mils Muliania somehow managed to rip the ball away as the winger tried to touch down and the Aussies had to settle for a scrum after the TV official's verdict returned inconclusive.
Two minutes later though, the Wallabies' hard work reaped its first dividends, thanks to the sharp vision of scrum-half Genia at a ruck five metres out.
Genia fooled the Kiwi defence into thinking he would flick the ball wide but darted back around the fringe and into the gap he created between front rowers Owen Franks and Keven Mealamu.
The scrum-half crashed over and Cooper slotted the conversion to give Australia a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
New Zealand's first points came on 23 minutes, with a Dan Carter penalty after the Wallabies back-line was caught offside.
But Cooper restored the Aussies' 10 point advantage nine minutes later with a straightforward penalty from the 22.
And just a minute later veteran Radike Samo, the oldest Australian to play in a Test, stunned the All Blacks with a fabulous solo try from 50 metres out.
Flanker David Pocock set things up when he ripped a high ball from All Black skipper Richie McCaw's hands, and quick ball from the resulting ruck found Lock Dan Vickerman who released Samo with a superb offload.
The 35-year-old number eight dummied the All Black defence and shrugged off the attentions of Adam Thomson as he sprinted half the pitch to score his first Test try.
Not even the combined efforts of Muliania and Cory Jane could stop Samo from crashing over and Cooper made the conversion to take the Wallabies into half-time with a commanding 20-3 lead.
The first points of the second half went to the All Blacks as they looked to dominate possession from the restart, Dan Carter adding three with a penalty on 47 minutes.
It was clear that All Blacks had set out their stall during the interval to extinguish the Wallaby flare that had burned so brightly in the opening 40 minutes.
Determined to deny Australia possession at all costs, New Zealand dug in and the hosts were yet to touch the ball before the visitors hit back in the 52nd minute.
The Black machine rumbled relentlessly upfield through a staggering 26 phases before Carter drew the Wallaby defence and unleashed Smith for the try.
The fly-half converted to take the scores to 20-11 and seven minutes later the All Blacks went in for their second to put them right back in the thick of things.
This time it was the brilliance of Nonu, who cut back down the blindside from a ruck before firing a long range cut-out pass to Smith.
The inside centre looped around the outside of his mid-field partner and collected the offload to sprint in for the try. Carter struck the extras to make things all even at 20-20.
The Aussie response was swift and deadly, Genia wrong-footing the All Blacks again and making good ground before delivering the offload to Digby Ioane on the New Zealand 22.
Ioane drew in the defence and then unselfishly fed Beale who ran in unopposed for the try to put the Walabies back in front, but Cooper missed the conversion, leaving the scores on 25-20.
Eight minutes from time Cooper missed what looked a straightforward chance to give his side an eight point advantage when he sent a penalty wide.
But Australia held on through a nail-biting finish to claim the Tri-Nations crown.