All Blacks, Wallabies re-launch Test rugby with 16 - 16 thriller | Daily News


 

All Blacks, Wallabies re-launch Test rugby with 16 - 16 thriller

Australia's Matt Philip (R) tackles New Zealand's Samuel Whitelock during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between New Zealand and Australia in Wellington on October 11, 2020. AFP
Australia's Matt Philip (R) tackles New Zealand's Samuel Whitelock during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between New Zealand and Australia in Wellington on October 11, 2020. AFP

WELLINGTON: New Zealand and Australia battled to a thrilling 16-16 draw in a gripping opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington on Sunday that saw the return of international rugby following the coronavirus shutdown.

Play continued nearly 10 minutes after the final hooter sounded as neither side wanted to settle for a draw.

The entertaining encounter, with two tries and two penalties apiece, lifted rugby out of its seven-month Test hiatus in front of a near-capacity 31,000 mask-free spectators with New Zealand having largely contained the virus.

For the All Blacks and Wallabies it was almost a year since they last played at the World Cup in Japan, and it was exactly 400 days since the last Test match in New Zealand.

In addition to the Covid distraction, the Test build-up was also rocked by disputes between New Zealand and Australia over Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, and when it came to the on-field contest there were signs of rust.

But there was also a keen edge, and the draw leaves the four-match Bledisloe series wide open as Australia push to end an 18-year drought.

“Draws are always funny, aren't they?” said All Blacks captain Sam Cane. “You could probably say both teams had their chances.

“We probably should have been leading by a bit more heading into the second half,” he added.

“Credit to the Aussies, as they always do they stuck at it and they were only a whisker away from taking it. It's all set up for next week now.” It was a moral victory for new Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie against All Blacks counterpart Ian Foster in the battle of the two New Zealand natives who both experiencing their first Test matches in charge.

While Foster has an experienced squad, Rennie is rebuilding and his new-look Wallabies, particularly debutants Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu, showed they were capable of rattling the All Blacks. AFP