All Blacks draw first blood in Bledisloe Cup
Sat, 18 Aug 2012 10:51p.m.
By Ben Horne
The Wallabies must win at their Eden Park graveyard next week if they're to keep alive hopes of stopping a 10-year Bledisloe Cup dynasty for New Zealand after falling 27-19 in the Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium.
A string of attacking and defensive errors from fullback Kurtley Beale directly led to All Blacks flyers Israel Dagg and Corey Jane crossing for first-half tries and, despite having their opportunities and drawing the second half 9-9, the Wallabies weren't able to bridge the gap.
The All Blacks were rusty at times and the Wallabies refused to give up.
But they were punished for an opening 40 minutes littered with mistakes as New Zealand took a giant stride towards holding onto the Bledisloe Cup which has been in their possession since 2003.
Dan Carter rubbed salt into the wounds after the siren, booting a penalty kick to rob Australia of a crucial bonus point in the first game of the inaugural four-nation Rugby Championship.
Robbie Deans's men must now break a 26-year hoodoo against the All Blacks at Auckland's Eden Park and win the third Test in Brisbane on October 20 if they're to pull off a miracle recovery against the World Cup champions.
Veteran forward Nathan Sharpe gave the Wallabies hope in the shadows of halftime when he crashed over to be 18-10 behind and three Berrick Barnes penalties in the second half, including one with five minutes remaining, kept the match within reach.
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams had a mixed night in his much-anticipated return to ANZ Stadium after he controversially walked out on the NRL's Canterbury Bulldogs back in 2008.
Williams threw a forward pass in the opening minute which led to Australia taking a 3-0 lead from a subsequent scrum penalty, however the devastating No.12 made amends 12 minutes later when he ran a brilliant decoy for man-of-the-match Dagg's opener.
Beale failed to get to ground when he ran the ball midfield 40 metres out from his own line and then he made a meal of a cover-defending attempt on Dagg after Williams and Carter had mesmerised the Wallabies inside men.
It only got worse for Beale - who made the most basic of errors eight minutes from halftime when he dropped a simple pass as he looked to clear the ball off his own line with no pressure on him whatsoever.
The out of sorts Melbourne Rebels No.15 was then left grasping at thin air again when Jane crossed from the scrum.
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