The Wallabies have finally broken their Bledisloe Cup drought by toppling the All Blacks 23-18 in a thriller at a rain-drenched Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The third Test of the series was a dead rubber but Michael Cheika’s men had a point to prove on Saturday night to their trans-Tasman enemies – and they did it, ending a run of seven straight defeats to score their first win over New Zealand since August 2015.
Australia scored three tries to two, showing new-found grit to close out the match as New Zealand mounted a late rally in front of 45,107 supporters who braved constant rain.
Two crunch second-half penalties from Reece Hodge – in the 64th and 78th minutes, both from beyond the halfway line – iced it for the Wallabies.
The All Blacks could could have levelled the scores in the 73rd minute after Rieko Ioane’s try but Damien McKenzie couldn’t land a difficult conversion attempt from out wide.
It was sweet relief for Bernard Foley, whose own wayward goalkicking nearly cost the Wallabies yet again after he missed three of his four shots at goal.
Foley kicked two from six in the second Bledisloe Test, when New Zealand prevailed in the dying minutes in Dunedin – but the world champions couldn’t conjure up the same magic this time around.
Just like that clash, this one also started with an early intercept try to the Wallabies.
Will Genia’s pressure and tackle on Lima Sopoaga created the opportunity, forcing him to cough the ball up right in the path of Hodge, who galloped 70m to score next to the posts.
But Australia’s 7-0 lead lasted only seven minutes. New Zealand replied quickly through Waisake Naholo, who went over untouched on the overlap.
Sopoaga converted and then nailed back-to-back penalties to extend the visitors’ lead to 13-7, with Australia struggling to keep the ball in the slippery conditions.
Eventually they strung some passes together and it worked.
Israel Folau darted between Naholo and Liam Squire to cap off a well-worked crossfield move in the dying embers of the first-half.
Bernard Foley was off target with a follow-up kick that would have put them in front, so it remained 13-12 at half-time.
Foley missed another penalty attempt in the 51st minute and could have had one more shot in the 56th from right in front, after an offside penalty.
But they opted for an attacking line-out – a decision that paid off handsomely.
It led to Marika Koroibete crossing on the other side of the field for his fourth try in three Tests, steamrolling McKenzie to make it 17-13. It was a lead they did not surrender.