The Wallabies put on a scintillating display to emerge 47-26 winners over the All Blacks in the opening match of the 2019 Bledisloe Cup.
Michael Cheika’s side showed their intent early on when they made a number of linebreaks in the opening minutes but they couldn’t convert that pressure into points on the scoreboard until the excellent Christian Lealiifano slotted over a penalty to give his side a 3-0 lead after seven minutes.
Things got better for the Wallabies when James O’Connor, on his first start for Australia since 2013, produced an incredible offload to release Reece Hodge and the winger sprinted clear to get the first try of the game which Lealiifano converted.
It didn’t take long for the All Blacks to hit back as Anton Lienert-Brown touched down for his side after a kick through from Jack Goodhue. Richie Mo’unga added the extras to put just three points between the sides but they went further ahead minutes later when Rieko Ioane went over in the corner despite the suspicion of a forward pass in the build up.
Despite Nic White’s protests, the try stood and Mo’unga’s conversion effort came back off the posts which saw the All Blacks go two points clear.
Lealiifano nudged the Wallabies in front with another penalty before the game’s flashpoint took place as Scott Barrett saw red for a shoulder charge on Michael Hooper. Referee Jerome Garces reviewed the footage and came to the conclusion that there was direct force to the head/neck area of Hooper and that a red card was the only option.
Lealiifano added three more points from the resulting penalty to give the Wallabies a 16-12 halftime lead.
The Wallabies made their numerical dominance count at the beginning of the second half when Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Nic White both crossed for two quick-fire tries.
This opened up a 26-12 lead before the All Blacks mounted a comeback attempt with a converted try from Beauden Barrett.
However, further tries from Marika Koroibete and Hodge opened up a 40-19 lead before Ngani Laumape got one back for New Zealand to reduce the arrears to 40-26.
It was too little, too late for Steve Hansen’s side and Kurtley Beale dotted down under the stick at the end of the game to sign off on a memorable victory for the Wallabies.