New Zealand 16-16 Australia: All Blacks and Wallabies draw in dramatic Bledisloe opener

By Sports Desk October 11, 2020

Australia's Reece Hodge hit the post with a long-range penalty in extra time as the Wallabies and New Zealand played out a breathtaking 16-16 draw in game one of the Bledisloe Cup.

Hodge had the chance to secure Australia's first win over the All Blacks in Wellington since 2000 as the full-time siren sounded but the replacement back's 54-metre kick agonisingly struck the post on Sunday.

The All Blacks and Wallabies continued to go head-to-head for nine additional see-sawing minutes before the visitors kicked the ball out for a draw as New Zealand came close to claiming victory in a stunning finish in wet conditions.

It was a battle of the debutant coaches as New Zealand head coach Ian Foster and Australia counterpart Dave Rennie oversaw their first Tests in charge since replacing Steve Hansen and Michael Cheika respectively.

The All Blacks and Wallabies were both playing for the first time in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a crowd was in attendance at Sky Stadium for the first of four Bledisloe Cup showdowns.

It was a lively start as the All Blacks crossed over first via Jordie Barrett – the younger brother of Beauden who missed the clash with an Achilles tendon problem – after the Wallabies were carved open but the former was unable to convert the try nine minutes in.

Led by centurion captain Michael Hooper – making his 100th career Test appearance – the Wallabies looked threatening in attack and continued to cause the All Blacks problems, but New Zealand managed to extend their lead to 8-0 on the boot of Barrett, who converted his first ever penalty at international level.

Having failed to capitalise on their possession and good field position, the Wallabies finally got on the board just past the half-hour mark when James O'Connor nailed his penalty.

The All Blacks thought they had taken a 13-3 lead into half-time after Rieko Ioane crossed over, but replays showed he failed to ground the ball following a swift breakaway – Australia handed a reprieve.

Denied a try on the stroke of half-time, New Zealand were not to be denied a second time as Aaron Smith shook off two defenders to put the All Blacks 13-3 ahead just four minutes into the second half, after Australia's O'Connor saw his penalty sail wide of the post minutes earlier.

Australia refused to surrender as they crossed over at speed, Marika Koroibete unstoppable as he powered down the left flank and grounded the ball to cut the deficit to 13-8 before debutant Filipo Daugunu levelled proceedings as the crowd went silent in the 63rd minute.

Daugunu – played in by an incredible through-the-legs from Nick White – became just the fourth Wallabies player since the beginning of this century to score a try when their career Test debut has been against the All Blacks, per Opta.

O'Connor and Barrett traded penalties down the stretch to level the match and set up a grandstand finish, which saw Hodge almost snatch victory for Australia inside his own half.

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