Australia recovered from the loss of Lachie Swinton – the first-ever Wallabies debutant to be red-carded – as the hosts rebounded from a record defeat to win a chaotic Bledisloe Cup Test 24-22 over New Zealand in Brisbane.
Both sides were down to 14 men before halftime, with Swinton following All Blacks forward Ofa Tu’ungafasi to the sheds for near-identical high tackles.
But, fresh off a record 43-5 hiding in Sydney last week, it was the Wallabies who controlled the second half on Saturday to win a seventh-straight Test at Suncorp Stadium.
Makeshift No.10 Reece Hodge’s boot and a late Taniela Tupou try put the Wallabies up by nine, but it took a crushing Marika Koroibete tackle to snuff out the All Blacks’ hopes after New Zealand hit back with a 78th-minute try of their own.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 7, 2020
Winger Tom Wright landed the first blow of an action-packed match, scoring with his first touch in Test rugby to give Australia the perfect start.
His reward was to find himself on the receiving end of a thumping Tu’ungafasi challenge that initially brought pats on the back for the New Zealand forward.
Replays showed Tu’ungafasi had hit Wright on the chin, with no mitigating factors, leaving referee Nic Berry reaching for the red card in the 23rd minute.
It should have been the decisive advantage, but instead the Wallabies finished the half with one man fewer on the park than the All Blacks.
First debutant Lachie Swinton replicated Tu’ungafasi’s hit with a challenge on Sam Whitelock, except without any signs of his arms in the tackle, to recklessly earn a red card of his own.
Then winger Koroibete was yellow-carded for a line-ball penalty that was deemed the final straw as the Wallabies desperately defended on half time.
Australia defied their manpower shortage to start the better in the second half, Reece Hodge’s penalty converting some good early pressure for an 11-8 lead.
— Justin Stevens (@_JustinStevens_) November 7, 2020
But All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor scored off the back of the scrum from the restart, Nic White fumbling Wright’s inside pass as the immediate reply went begging.
Hodge then missed a penalty from 50 metres but the Wallabies continued to press, and New Zealand’s Scott Barrett found himself sin-binned for a professional foul.
Hodge did not miss another from in-front though, with Tupou then burrowing over for a nine-point lead with five minutes to play.
The All Blacks replied through Tupou Vaa’i, leaving two minutes for the All Blacks to conjure a match-winner.
But Koroibete twice crunched Jordie Barrett to force an error and seal the win and with it a little pride after a 2-1 series loss.