Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Lachlan Swinton sent off in first half in Brisbane
Two red cards in Australia v New Zealand
First All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi was shown a red card by referee Nic Berry in the 23rd minute for his tackle on Wallabies debutant Tom Wright. His shoulder made contact with Wright’s chin and as there was no obvious drop in height from the wing, there weren’t any mitigating factors, so the All Blacks were reduced to 14 for the remaining hour.
Then a little over ten minutes later, Lachlan Swinton, who was winning his first cap for Australia, was sent off for a similar incident, his shoulder making direct contact with Sam Whitelock’s head. Again there were no mitigating factors, which officials look for as part of World Rugby’s high tackle decision-making framework, therefore it was a red card.
So it was 14 v 14 for much of the match, although at times it was 14 v 13 as both sides also had players yellow-carded – Marika Koroibete sin-binned towards the end of the first half and Scott Barrett dismissed for ten minutes late in the second period.
It was that Barrett yellow – for slapping the ball out of scrum-half Nic White’s hands at a ruck – that proved decisive. The Wallabies were trailing at that point but then took the lead with a Taniela Tupou try, which Reece Hodge converted.
The All Blacks came back with a late try themselves but the hosts held on for a memorable 24-22 victory – quite a recovery from a record 43-5 defeat last week in Sydney.
The All Blacks had already secured the Bledisloe Cup thanks to that victory and a 27-7 win at Eden Park earlier in October, but the ability to grind out a win in this match will give the Wallabies a much-needed confidence boost.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said: “It was a good bounce back. We’re a proud team and our performance last week didn’t reflect where we’re at.”
It also gives Australia important points in the Tri-Nations table. As All Blacks captain Sam Cane said afterwards, the result means the tournament is “alive”.
This year’s Rugby Championship features just three teams – Argentina, Australia and New Zealand – following South Africa’s withdrawal, hence the Tri-Nations tournament name for 2020. Next weekend the All Blacks face the Pumas at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney.
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