30 August 2008

Utes Big Win!

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson stood in the Michigan end zone listening to the cheers of Utah's fans and looking at the scoreboard after Utah's 25-23 win Saturday. He was soaking in the atmosphere of what he called his biggest win when he was brought back to reality by a Michigan reporter's question.
"So how does Michigan's defense compare to the ones you face in the WAC," he asked Johnson.
"Nobody knows us, still," Johnson said, shaking his head.
No, apparently not all know that Utah is from the Mountain West, have a great quarterback and one of the toughest defenses in the country. But if the Utes can keep winning games like Saturday's, college football fans all over will soon know about the Utes.
Facing a Michigan team intent to erase the memories of their horrible start of 2007, the Utes instead added to the Wolverines' misery by taking a 25-23 win in front of the usual Michigan Stadium sellout - this one numbering 108,421.
"We knew we had one chance to do this," Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles said. "We have a veteran group and we know how to win."
Michigan's fans packed the Big House well before kickoff expecting their team to know how to win too. They had the leadership of new coach Rich Rodriguez and a highly touted defense, but the Wolverines were missing a key element - a seasoned quarterback
who could run the offense confidently who knew when to run and where to pass.
They needed a quarterback the caliber of Johnson.
Playing injury-free for the first time since the 2007 opener, Johnson finished 21-of-33 for 305 yards, an interception and a touchdown.
Johnson's TD pass was a 19-yarder to Bradon Godfrey with 13 seconds left before halftime.
"This is right up there with the Louisville win," Johnson said, referring to the Utes' 44-35 win over the Cardinals last season. "I'll remember this for the rest of my life."
It could be just the start of a season full of memories for the Utes. They'll probably break into the Top 25 today and showed the potential of meeting all the hype surrounding them. At least for a day, the BCS hopes are alive and well, not that coach Kyle Whittingham wants to hear about it.
"It's not even in our vocabulary," he said. "That is absurd to talk in those terms right now. We have played one good football team and won one on the road which is nice, but we have 11 left."
They still have some improving to do too. As well as the offense moved the ball for most of the game, Utah had trouble getting the ball in the end zone. Luckily the Utes had two other strengths - Louie Sakoda and a seasoned defense. Sakoda kicked field goals of 28, 41, 43 and 53 yards, with the last being the longest of his career. It also put the Utes up 25-10 in the third quarter.
By then the game seemed all but lost for the Wolverines, who had replaced starting quarterback Nick Sheridan with Steven Threet but couldn't find a way to move the ball. Through three quarters the Wolverines had only 26 yards rushing and 126 passing.
To avoid their second season-opening loss in a row the Wolverines needed some sort of game-changing play. It came in the form of a blocked punt on Sakoda.
Michigan recovered on Utah's 33-yard line. On the following play Threet threw a touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway, cutting Utah's lead to 25-17.
Sensing its moment, Michigan's defense played its best series and sacked Johnson on third-and-15. Johnson fumbled and Michigan recovered on Utah's 31-yard line.
The series was one of the few times Utah's defense lost its composure, committing a 15-yard facemask penalty and a 15-yard pass interference penalty that moved the ball inside Utah's 5-yard line. Freshman Sam McGuffie ran the ball in from there, making it 25-23 with 6:26 remaining.
That was plenty of time for the Wolverines to finish off the comeback, only Utah's defense wouldn't allow it. Utah's offense stalled, failing to get a first down on its next three possessions, but the defense wouldn't allow the Wolverines to move the ball either.
The game ended when Utah's R.J. Stanford wrapped up receiver Michael Shaw after a 7-yard gain.
The Wolverines needed more, much more than that, to beat the Utes.

Superb win for Waikato

Waikato looks to have finally found some form and has thrashed Auckland 34-13 in Hamilton in week five of the Air New Zealand Cup.

The home side really stepped up and gave it to the defending champs, picking up a valuable 5 points in doing so and putting its 2008 campaign in good stead.

Waikato ran in four tries to Auckland's two in a game that saw Mooloo All Blacks Sione Lauaki and Stephen Donald truly shine as they dominated all aspects of the game.

Auckland first five-eighths Lachie Munro scored the first points of the evening as he kicked an easy penalty in front of a very local home crowd.

Waikato was straight back on the offensive however and scored a brilliant try through wing Tim Mikkelson on the back of some impressive backline play.

Donald successfully added the extra points as Waikato took the 7-3 lead after 12 minutes.

After having to valiantly defend its tryline, Auckland then ran in a try against the run of play when centre Ben Atiga slid over the line and put Auckland back in front.

A collapsed scrum right in front of the Auckland posts resulted in a penalty and allowed Donald to add three more points and reclaim the lead after 22 minutes of play.

Waikato was looking the far more dangerous of the sides as it chipped away at Auckland and started to create some real pressure.

Big Mooloo No. 8 Lauaki looked to have finally found some form as he threw himself into the game and terrorised the visitors with his outstanding tackle-breaking and ball-running abilities.

Donald was able to show his class when his chip kick and re-gather paid off and he scored Waikato's second of the night.

The 17-8 score remained the same for the res t of the half with Waikato looking confident going into the break.

It took 10 minutes in the second half before Donald slotted another penalty and boosted the points buffer to 12 over the defending champs.

Lauaki then showed all he was capable of when he stole a ball from a ruck and then sprinted down field before passing to second five-eighths Callum Bruce who scored Waikato's fourth of the evening.

Donald kicked the extra two and took the score to 27-8 with just under 30 minutes left in the game.

Munro was able to pick up a crucial try for Auckland in the 68th minute when he was flicked a good pass and used the overlap to score in the corner.

Although time was working against Auckland, the visitors put together some of its best play of the evening in the dying stages of the game.

It was Waikato that had the final say of the night when Lauaki drew a man and passed to lightening quick winger Soseni Anesi who sprinted down the sideline before passing inside to hooker Ole Avei who scored.

Donald converted the try just moments before the fulltime whistle and Waikato claimed its first win in 2008.

Waikato 34 (Mikkelson, Donald, Bruce, Avei; Donald 4 con, 2 pen)
Auckland 13 (Atiga, Munro tries; Munro pen)

28 August 2008

My New Ride

With the price of gas going out of sight and our new move I decided to purchase a scooter to save some money.

05 August 2008

Waikato still positive

Kiwi rugby fans were provided with the first Air New Zealand Cup upset of the year last Thursday when Waikato was downed 18-10 by a spirited Northland side in Whangarei, and was not the only heavyweight side to be toppled by a minnow team in the opening round.

Canterbury was soon beaten 25-24 by Manawatu and defending champions and Ranfurly Shield holders Auckland was beaten 17-6 by a Counties Manakau side that didn't notch up a single win in the 2007 season.

New Waikato first five-eighths Callum Bruce was not at all disheartened by the result and said he and his teammates have taken a lot of positives from the match.

"It ended up just being the simple things that let us down," he said.

"We played the better rugby though. If you look at the stats on possession and territory we were the better team, we just blew it with silly mistakes close to the line."

Although it was clear that Waikato was the dominant team in the match, Bruce admitted that the weather and style of play ended up hugely in Northland's favour.

"The conditions really suited the way they wanted to play, but we have taken heaps from the game and are all looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the season," said Bruce.

"[David] Holwell played really well and was dictating the game with his kicking."

The rest of the season for Waikato begins with the Mooloo's first home game of the season where it will face a solid looking Tasman side.

Tasman went close to beating Bay of Plenty last weekend and showed it is a team that should definitely not be written off, especially in a competition that, so far, has been littered with upsets.

Twenty-five-year-old Bruce said he is aware of the challenges that lie ahead in the Tasman clash and said the team has been preparing in much the same way it did for Northland.

"They have a big forward pack that looked good last week so we will approach this weekend the same way we did last the last game," he said.

Bruce is a recent addition to the Waikato squad and is looking comfortable in his red, black and yellow striped number 10 jersey and said he is glad he made the move.

Bruce was drafted to the Hamilton-based Chiefs Rebel Sport Super 14 team for the 2008 season after playing 22 games for the Highlanders and representing Otago at provincial level in 24 games.

"I'm really enjoying my time with Waikato," he said.

"I had a good season with the Chiefs and obviously that helped my decision to stay and play for Waikato.

"It's a really professional outfit here and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."

Recent talks of a European style trans-Tasman competition that would spell the end for both the Super 14 and Air New Zealand Cup would severely impact players like Bruce who use these competitions as a gateway to higher honours.

New Zealand representative teams such as the All Blacks and New Zealand Maori (who Bruce played for this year) are usually selected from the Super 14, whose players are most often selected from the Air New Zealand Cup.

Bruce said that he hasn't given the proposed format much thought but was confident the right choice would eventually be made.

"I know that whatever decision is made will be the right one for the players," he said.

"I still think we need to stick with something close to the Super 14 though.

"It means that players get to experience rugby at a high level and when they get selected for the All Blacks or whatever it won't be too much of a big step."

All Blacks call in Toeava

Auckland's Isaia Toeava will join the All Blacks squad for the South African leg of the Philips Tri Nations.

Toeava returns to the All Blacks as an injury replacement for fullback Leon MacDonald who is making a gradual return from concussion.

Meanwhile wing Rudi Wulf will not travel to Cape Town as the All Blacks selectors have opted to include three halfbacks in the 26-man travelling squad, a decision that will see Wellington’s Piri Weepu fly out with the team on Friday morning.

Weepu is also set to play in Thursday night’s Air New Zealand Cup match against a North Harbour team that will feature fellow All Black Anthony Tuitavake on the wing.

“Isaia is currently at fullback for Auckland and has played there previously at the international and the Rebel Sport Super 14 level,” said All Blacks coach Graham Henry. “He’s also got the ability to play elsewhere in the backline which is helpful when we are a long way from home.

“Leon is improving, but the medical advice is to take things slowly,” Henry added. “He’ll gradually get back into exercise and then training and then may look to play an Air New Zealand Cup match.”

While Wulf sprained an MCL in provincial rugby last week, he could be able to resume training this week. However, the All Blacks needed to omit a player from the travelling squad, Henry noted, and Wulf’s injury question mark tipped the decision.

Hikairo Forbes - LDS return missionary signs with Waikato

"Hikairo would have played the other day but he became a father on Tuesday and that took precedence," said Hanks, who expressed confidence Forbes would do a good job despite his complete lack of experience at this level. The Hamilton-born 2004 New Zealand Secondary Schools representative has been known for his outstanding mobility and ball-carrying ability since his school days at Church College of New Zealand. (LDS High School located next to the Temple)

"Hikairo is someone who was identified as a schoolboy as someone having potential," Hanks said.

After school, Hikairo went on his Mormon mission. He returned last year. Last November, he joined the Waikato high performance programme, training fulltime under trainer Wally Rifle, playing for Hautapu and earning this week's start. "He and Josh Hohneck have both brought ball-carrying ability to the team and are both also good defenders," Hanks said.

Mark your Calendars

Heartland XV to tour the United States

New Zealand's best heartland provincial rugby players will undertake a tour of the United States in November, the New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed today.

The New Zealand Heartland XV side, selected from players competing in the AA Rewards Heartland Championship, is scheduled to play two games on their first tour of the United States ¬– against a Pacific Coast XV and a USA Select XV.

The final game against the USA Select XV will be played in Salt Lake City, Utah to open the city’s new stadium on 8 November.

NZRU General Manager Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said the New Zealand Heartland XV side represented the best of the country’s heartland players.

“Selection to this team is recognition for their outstanding performances in the AA Rewards Heartland Championship. The tour to the United States is a fantastic opportunity for these players to represent their country and wear a black jersey.

“At the same time, the tour also underlines the NZRU’s commitment to supporting rugby development in that part of the world. Over the last few years the New Zealand Maori and New Zealand Sevens teams have both played in the United States where rugby continues to grow and we are delighted to contribute to that growth,” he said.

New Zealand Heartland XV match schedule
4 November: Pacific Coast XV in San Francisco
8 November: USA Select XV in Salt Lake City

Waikato 10 - Northland 18

The Mooloo men went down to Northland 18-10 in the opening game of the Air New Zealand Cup held at Okara Park in Whangarei tonight.

Northland had not beaten Waikato since 1999.

Northland led the way in the 80 minute encounter, leading 13- 3 at half time.

Waikato's only try of the night was scored by Sione Lauaki who came off the bench early in the second half. Sosene Anesi unfortunately had a try denied by the Television Match Official ten minutes from full time.

How the Air New Zealand Cup sides shape up

Air New Zealand Cup premiership teams at a glance (* denotes new head coach):


NPC Champions: 1982; 84-85; 87-90; 93-96; 99; 2002-03; 05; 07

2007: Champions and Ranfurly Shield holders

Coach: Pat Lam - mid-season replacement to be named

Prospects: Unbeatable last season, it doesn't appear so easy this year. An entire starting line-up has either relocated or retired, a gigantic 619 games worth of provincial experience - and nine All Blacks. Inexperienced first five-eighths Lachie Munro will guide an inexperienced forward pack - Daniel Braid is the solitary All Black - around the park. Coach Pat Lam departs after round five to focus on the Blues, adding a possible impediment to continuity. Will be keen to utilise their three current All Blacks - Keven Mealamu, Jerome Kaino and John Afoa - if and when available.


NPC Champions: 1976

2007: 13th

Coach: Kevin Schuler

Prospects: Things are grim off the field, and will struggle to gain break-even on it. The union is battling financially, so much so that head office staff face redundancy after recording a $915,000 loss. Front row bookends Ben Castle and Simms Davison have headed to France, another big loss. Arden David and Joe Savage, bit part players with Wellington B and North Harbour respectively fill those experienced voids. Pivot Murray Williams has drifted to Japan though Highlanders draft player Mike Delaney is an adequate replacement to run a backline bolstered by the acquisition of sevens stars Zar Lawrence and Nigel Hunt.


NPC Champions: 1977; 83; 97; 2001; 04.

2007: Beaten semifinalists

Coach: Rob Penney

Prospects: For all the Crusaders' Super 14 dominance, the same success has rarely been replicated by Canterbury in the provincial competition. During the Deans dynasty, Canterbury won the domestic title just twice - coach Rob Penney has his third attempt this year with a squad that appears as well-equipped as any. Despite missing a bevvy of internationals the roster is still laden with experience and in new captain Kieran Read and Stephen Brett they have a couple of All Blacks-in-waiting.

Read has Japan-bound seasoned pro Mose Tuiali'i in a loose trio which sees Hayden Hopgood and George Whitelock lined up as Richie McCaw's understudy.


NPC Champions: 1979.

2007: 14th

Coach: Greg Aldous *

Prospects: If there truly is no place like home, then Counties-Manukau should anticipate emerging from the cellar with a new coach, new signings and the security of a solid financial footing. Repositioned back at Pukekohe - for the daytime kick-offs at least - one of the thriftiest unions may be about the reap some rewards. The Steelers have brought in some key personnel. Pivot Tasesa Lavea, front rower Lance Po-ching and national sevens captain DJ Forbes have arrived from Auckland, while former Blues and Highlanders midfielder Romi Ropati is back after an extended OE in Japan, France and Italy. Lelia Masaga is a trump card while fellow wing Frank Halai has been mentioned as the next Jonah Lomu.


NPC, second division winners: 1979; 88-90; 2001-03; 05.

2007: Beaten semifinalists

Coach: Peter Russell

Prospects: Will the fairytale continue? Unscripted semifinalists last year, Hawke's Bay have been the real winners since the provincial rugby competition was revamped, freeing them from second division domination. Conquerors of Wellington and Waikato (twice) last year, the Magpies have a similar squad led by the evergreen Danny Lee. Crucially, a select few have had a season of Super rugby under their belts: speedster Zac Guildford, imposing prop Clint Newland, New Zealand Maori hooker Hikawera Elliott and pack workhorse Michael Johnson.


NPC champions: 1980.

2007: 12th

Coach: Dave Rennie

Prospects: Another province fearful for the future given the competition format is ripe for review, Manawatu can at least point to gradual improvement after they understandably propped up the table in 2006. The Turbos finished 12th last year, the product of a strong work ethic - openside flanker Josh Bradknock personified the collective effort from an undersized pack. Hayden Triggs was recognised with a second Super 14 contract while Johnny Leota joined Highlanders. Argentine fullback Francisco Bosch will add flair from the rear for a third season.


NPC: second division winners: 1987.

2007: 9th

Coach: Wayne Pivac

Prospects: After missing the playoffs and surrendering the Ranfurly Shield with barely a whimper, North Harbour have an easy act to follow this season. An unprecedented representation in the All Blacks has a downside as the loss, for however long, of Rudi Wulf, Anthony Tuitavake, Anthony Boric will be keenly felt, as will No 8 Nick Williams' season-ending shoulder surgery. Jimmy Gopperth, on loan from Wellington, and Chris Smylie, back home from Otago, should at least add some stability behind a scrum sure to be tutored wisely by academy coach Craig Dowd.


NPC: Second division winners: 1977, 1997.

2007: 10th

Coach: Marc Anscombe

Prospects: Northland will be grateful veterans David Holwell and Justin Collins are available to impart their wisdom to a squad featuring a dozen new faces. The northerly drift has also bit in Whangarei with nuggety halfback Corey Tamou now in France while one-season Crusader No 8 Jake Paringatai is plying his trade in Japan. Daniel Bowden has headed in the opposite direction - to Dunedin, further emphasising Holwell's importance on the paddock. Fetu'u Vainikolo, who made the return journey after an impressive Super 14 debut with the Highlanders, will be expected to provide a fair share of the five-pointers.


NPC Champions: 1991; 98.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Steve Martin

Prospects: By Otago standards the player exodus has been relatively languid for a change. The damage was done last year, to the Highlanders at least, but Steve Martin's side has a settled look to it. Inside backs Callum Bruce and Charlie Hore have departed, while wing Matt Saunders in now a Southlander but promising Northlander Daniel Bowden has struck around since the Super 14 to slot in at first five-eighths. Waikato loose forward Steven Setephano will be anticipating more minutes on the field since his move from flanker-clogged Waikato while wing Lucky Mulipola has been signed from a fracturing Tasman.


NPC: second division winners, 1989; 94; 96.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: David Henderson/Simon Culhane

Prospects: At long last the Stags might have a backline to complement another typically rugged pack. Guilty of being a tad three dimensional in the past - scoring options revolved around a Paul Miller barge, Jimmy Cowan snipe or Blair Stewart penalty. With Miller long gone and Cowan on All Blacks duty, Southland have assembled an encouraging back division with Stewart and James Wilson at pivot and fullback, New Zealand Maori Jason Kawau in midfield while Matt Saunders has winged in from Dunedin. Prop Chris King has also transferred from Otago to occupy Clarke Dermody's tighthead spot. With Cowan expected to be rarely sighted, halfback duties fall to his brother Scott and Dane Shelford, son of late Kiwis prop Adrian. Hoani MacDonald, in his farewell season before heading to Wales, will be expected to secure a steady stream on lineout ball.


NPC: second division winners, 1976; 82-85; 92; 95.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Adrian Kennedy *

Prospects: One of five new coaches in the competition, Kennedy has a wide-ranging CV having spent time in South Africa and English club Saracens. He takes over from provincial legend Kieran Crowley and inherits the standard confrontational forward pack, albeit one with a more expressive component. Taranaki's loose forward stocks have been replenished by the arrival of Wellingtonian Alex Tulou and another potentially damaging offloader Taisina Tuifua. A strong club season should also see Nemia Soqueta, brother of the rangy Tomasi, feature. Kennedy has lured Saracens lock Tom Ryder south though the Hurricanes second row duo of Craig Clarke and Jason Eaton is well-established. The competition is key for Eaton who has clearly dropped down the All Blacks' pecking order. Behind the pack, former Waikato utility Willie Ripia looms as an astute - and necessary - buy.


New team in 2006 from the amalgamation of Marlborough and Nelson Bays.

2007: 11th

Coach: Todd Blackadder *

Prospects: At risk of becoming the new Central Vikings, Tasman represents rugby's equivalent of an arranged marriage beset with irreconcilable differences. The union's decision to sell off Blenheim's Lansdowne Park to help clear debts of $4 million has prompted widespread anger in Marlborough; partner Nelson Bays are considering splitting and joining Buller. Propped up by the Canterbury Rugby Union, their benefactor has recalled last year's captain and hooker Ti'i Paulo to Christchurch while prop Ben May has signed with Waikato from next season - an indication of where the player's feel the union may be going. Todd Blackadder, named as Robbie Deans' successor at the Crusaders, could hardly start his New Zealand coaching career in a more challenging environment.


Champions: 1992, 2006.

2007: Beaten quarterfinalists

Coach: Tony Hanks *

Prospects: A year older, a year wiser - that could be the mantra of the Waikato squad under Warren Gatland's promoted assistant Tony Hanks. With injuries causing havoc Gatland had no choice but to call on the likes of midfielders Roimata Hansell-Pune and Jackson Willison; Hanks will be hoping the relative rookies are better for the experience. Hard hit by a significant representation in the All Blacks - including first timers Stephen Donald and Richard Kahui - Waikato conscripted Otago discard Callum Bruce and Kevin O'Neill in the off-season. Tom Willis, Marty Holah and Steven Bates are overseas and Jono Gibbes has retired but Liam Messam is still on hand, ever hopeful of a place on the All Blacks' end of year tour.


NPC Champions: 1978; 81; 86; 2000.

2007: Runners-up

Coach: Jamie Joseph *

Prospects: Can the abrasive former All Blacks hardman take Wellington to the top? Jamie Joseph takes over the top job from Aussie McLean with the intention of taking Wellington a step further after they have been the losing finalists in each of the Air New Zealand Cup finals. Youth was a focal point when the initial 27-man squad was named. The polarising Jimmy Gopperth has been jettisoned to North Harbour, leaving under-20s World Cup winner Daniel Kirkpatrick under pressure as the first choice pivot though Piri Weepu might deputise from time to time. Wing is a concern with Hosea Gear the only specialist named - thanks to Ma'a Nonu's All Blacks' rebirth and Shannon Paku's departure. Joseph is hoping to gain dispensation to field 18-year-old Buxton Popoali'i. Fortunately the pack still has a hard edge to it, with or without the All Blacks. Jacob Ellison, Ross Filipo, Jeremy Thrush and Thomas Waldrom should ensure Wellington are rarely outmuscled.

03 August 2008

All Blacks power to big win

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw helped inspire his side to a commanding return to form when beating Australia 39-10 at Eden Park to keep its Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup hopes alive in Auckland.
It extended the run of losses Australia had suffered at the ground, not having won since 1986, but more importantly it proved the all the competitive instincts associated with the All Blacks tradition are still apparent in the modern breed as they claimed a bonus point win with a last-minute try to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu.

Nonu and prop Tony Woodcock each scored two tries.

It was a display of concentrated application aimed at eliminating the frustrations of the first Test between the sides in Sydney last week. Ball retention was almost faultless by comparison while the scrum was able to operate efficiently under the control of referee Mark Lawrence.

That gave the inside backs the opportunity to dictate terms. Halfback Jimmy Cowan had clearly his finest game in the All Blacks jersey while first five-eighths Dan Carter, who landed two conversions and four penalty goals for 16 points, demonstrated the subtleties of his kicking game with a superb display.

There was also a hunger among the chasing pack when Australian runners were dislocated from their support and a ruthlessness all too rare in recent displays.

Conditions were damp, but expected rain stayed away for the first half in a game which produced the expected amount of kicking, but with much more effect by the All Blacks.

Two tries in three minutes at the end of the first quarter to Woodcock lifted the All Blacks' confidence.

Leading the way with a challenging display was lock Ali Williams who was in outstanding touch, complementing his control at the re-starts where New Zealand looked so much more assured. He also competed at Australian lineout throws to upset the Wallaby momentum.

McCaw's return in the loose gave a competitiveness lacking in his absence and his determination eliminated the effect of the Australian loose forwards George Smith and Phil Waugh significantly.

The first try, after 20 minutes, from a scrum at which Australian prop Al Baxter was told by referee Mark Lawrence, "I've been as patient as I can, now you've got to scrum properly."

The All Blacks spun the ball where second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu charged at the line. When he went to ground the All Blacks set up the ruck and it was Woodcock who positioned himself off the ruck to take Cowan's pass and batter his way over the line, perfectly slung in low body position.

From the re-start, again well-controlled by lock Ali Williams, the kick was taken and Cowan sent a lovely kick which rolled towards touch at the corner flag where fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper had no option but to let the ball go out.

Williams rose to take the ball and direct it down to Woodcock who took the ball again and charged through to score.

Australia's reply came in the 31st minute after first five-eighths Matt Giteau kicked behind the New Zealand backs. Replacement lock Dan Vickerman, who was on for Nathan Sharpe in the blood bin, secured a fine take and with centre Stirling Mortlock running onto the ball at pace, to beat Conrad Smith's tackle and set up Ashley-Cooper for the perfect run in to score.

Giteau's conversion made the score 18-10 to New Zealand.

Yet another penalty conceded by flanker George Smith, for playing the ball off his feet and deliberately ripping the ball resulted in Carter landing his third penalty goal of the half.

Two minutes into the second half, a thumping tackle by Richie McCaw on Australian halfback Luke Burgess saw the ball drop loose and it was cleared by hooker Andrew Hore with second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu handling twice before going over wide out.


New Zealand 39 (Tony Woodcock 2, Ma'a Nonu 2 tries; Dan Carter 2 con, 5 pen) Australia 10 (Adam Ashley-Cooper try; Matt Giteau con, pen). HT: 21-10