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August 11, 2019

Wallabies stun All Blacks 47-26


August 11, 2019

PERTH, Australia: Australia scored a stunning 47-26 upset over a shellshocked New Zealand side reduced to 14 men in a pulsating Rugby Championship clash Saturday for a major confidence boost ahead of the World Cup.

A power-packed All Blacks were widely tipped to retain a stranglehold over their trans-Tasman rivals in Perth, but a red card for Scott Barrett in the dying seconds of the first half for a dangerous shoulder charge made it an uphill battle.

He was only the fourth All Black ever to be sent off, with Sonny Bill Williams the last, against the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

New Zealand went to the break 16-12 behind and in a game that doubled as the opening Bledisloe Cup clash, they never recovered with Australia crossing for six tries to the visitor’s four, scoring their most points ever against the All Blacks.

It was a major blow ahead of the All Blacks World Cup defence and follows a narrow 20-16 victory over the Pumas last month before a scrappy 16-16 draw against the Springboks two weeks ago, raising serious questions over their all-conquering dominance.

Hanson tested positional combinations in their opening two Rugby Championship matches, but against Australia he reverted to what is considered close to his starting 15 for their first game of the World Cup in Japan next month.

But even before Barrett was sent packing, they struggled with ill discipline, giving away three penalties in the opening stanza, all converted by Christian Lealiifano with Australia dominating possession and territory.

It didn’t improve in the second half, with the Wallabies pressing their advantage with two early tries to rock the All Blacks’ confidence and keep alive hopes of getting their hands back on the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002. The trans-Tasman rivals play the return leg in Auckland next week, with Australia needing to win to take home the silverware.

The result justified Cheika’s gamble in changing up the back-line. A livewire Reece Hodge was a handful, James O’Connor, in his first start in six years, slotted in seamlessly and Lealiifano was his usual calm presence. It gave Australia their first back-to-back victories in the Rugby Championship since 2016.

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