It’s Bledisloe Week, so it’s only natural that our next great Wallaby try to be analysed is in one of the Wallabies most memorable Bledisloe wins.
Shall we do a bit of build up here?
· The Wallabies were coming off a history making 2-1 series defeat of the British and Irish Lions.
· This was the last game of the Tri-Nations. Australia had to win to take retain the trophy.
· This was the last game of the Bledisloe Cup. In reality, Australia didn’t have to win, as the held the trophy and had defeated the All Blacks about three weeks earlier in Dunedin.
· This was Wallaby captain, and legend, John Eales’s last game for the Wallabies.
· This was Wallaby coach, and legend, Rod McQueen’s last game for the Wallabies.
The Wallabies, it seemed, were well on the way to wrapping it all up in a nice pretty bow in front of 90,000 odd fans at the Olympic stadium. Leading 19-6 at half time, the boys looked to have the goods.
But things were soon to change. Doug Howlett crossed over early in the 2nd half, whilst a penalty goal and a try to Pita Alatini soon after would see the Blacks take the lead 23-19. Penalties were traded and we entered the final ten minutes at 26-22. The Wallabies were going all out, opting against taking further penalty shots to keep the pressure on the opposition.
Below are the highlights of the game, with the Kefu try starting at about5.53 on the clip.
Still brings a shiver down the spine doesn’t it?
….we enter the final minute of the game. It’s a Wallaby lineout, let’s say 7m from the try line…
Let’s break it down.
Michael Foley (2) is the hooker; with reserve rake Brendan Cannon remaining on the bench unused. The Wallabies have Owen Finegan (6) lurking as a pseudo scrumhalf at the front of the lineout; Phil Waugh (19) is on for George Smith and is the front lifter in the first pod; Matt Cockbain (18) has come on for David Giffen and is the target jumper. Behind him is Nick Stiles (1).
The great man Eales (no number) is jumping by himself at the back, with some support from Ben Darwin (17) on for Rod Moore. Meaning…..Toutai Kefu (8) is lingering in the backs….somewhere.
The throw is pitch perfect. Its worth watching in slow mo, or at least pausing at the point it is caught. Watch the perfect curve over the competing All Black jumper, Norm Maxwell (4), being lifted at the front by Chris Jack (5).
Matty Cockbain catches it beautifully, and brings it down strongly to present to his pack mates. The kiwis do
a decent job of battling for the ball, mostly through Maxwell’s offside play, but Cockbain uses his strength, with some support from Eales to deliver it to Gregan (9).
The ball is rushed though, and gets caught up in some feet, allowing the All Blacks a bit of a jump start. Gregan delivers straight to Steve Larkham (10), drifting outwards.
Andrew Mehrtens (10) is initially caught flat footed, but ends up overcompensating by rushing up a half a yard ahead of the defensive line. But he looks blinkered, unaware of the patterns developing in front of him.
Larkham turns the ball back inside to Kefu well back from the defensive line, almost giving Kef the same line that he himself had. But with Merts seemingly committing himself to Elton Flatley, Taine Randell (6) is caught reacting slowly to the Kefu charge.
A slight prod off his left propels Kefu into the hole created by Larkham (and Mehrtens). Tana Umaga (13) and Marty Holah (19) react and look to make the tackle. Tana gets him, but all Holah can do is try to hold onto Umaga. Umaga’s hit, with the weight of Holah, almost seems to push Kefu towards the line.
Justin Marshall (20) is in cover and goes high in an attempt to seal up the ball. He seems to have him, but Kefu is still able to simply reach out, ball in one hand, and place the pill on the paint! Cue hysterics.
In summary, my try highlights:
– Perfect throw by Michael Foley
– Strong catch and bring down by Biscuits Cockbain.
– Deft skill by Larkham.
– Kefu. Agility. Strength. Power. Awareness.
Australia v New Zealand
Stadium Australia, Sydney. 1st September, 2001
Wallabies: 15 Matt Burke, 14 Chris Latham, 13 Daniel Herbert, 12 Nathan Grey, 11 Joe Roff, 10 Steve Larkham, 9 George Gregan, 8 Toutai Kefu, 7 George Smith, 6 Owen Finegan, 5 John Eales [c], 4 David Giffen, 3 Rod Moore, 2 Michael Foley, 1 Nick Stiles. Replacements: Matt Cockbain, Ben Darwin, Phil Waugh, Elton Flatley, Andrew Walker.
All Blacks: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga, 12 Pita Alatini, 11 Jonah Lomu, 10 Andrew Mehrtans, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Ron Cribb, 7 Taine Randell, 6 Troy Flavell, 5 Norm Maxwell, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Greg Sommerville, 2 Anton Oliver [c], 1 Carl Hoeft. Replacements: Carl Hayman, Justin Marshall, Christian Cullen, Marty Holah.
Australia 29 (Chris Latham, Toutai Kefu tries; Matt Burke conv, 4 pg; Andrew Walker pg, Elton Flatley conv) defeated New Zealand 26 (Doug Howlett, Pita Alatini tries; Andrew Mehrtens 2 conv, 4 pg)