HONG KONG // New Zealand came from behind to beat Australia 19-14 in their Bledisloe Cup match in Hong Kong today to complete a 3-1 series victory. The All Blacks paid a price, however, with an ankle injury to hooker Andrew Hore early in the game, which will most likely rule him out of New Zealand's tour of Britain and Ireland starting in Scotland next weekend. In a match that failed to live up to expectations, players from both sides had trouble adapting to the slippery surface, while the large crowd became increasingly frustrated with decisions from the Irish referee Alan Lewis.
Sitiveni Sivivatu and Richie McCaw scored tries for the All Blacks, while winger Drew Mitchell crossed twice for the Wallabies. The All Blacks coach Graham Henry was pleased with the way his team, 14-9 down at half-time, regained their edge in the second half when his forwards asserted their dominance against the tiring Australians. "[It was] hard as hell and the guys showed enough guts to get through it," Henry told reporters after the game, which was brought to Hong Kong and Asian soil for the first time to try and promote the sport.
Australia started brightly and struck in the seventh minute when flyhalf Matt Giteau charged at the line and somehow slipped an inside ball to the outstanding Mitchell, who touched down under the posts for a converted try. New Zealand's Dan Carter, playing at centre to accommodate new cap Stephen Donald, booted two penalties to close the gap to 7-6, but the Wallabies came charging back and Mitchell, only in the team because Lote Tuqiri was injured, crossed for his second five-pointer.
Carter narrowed the gap again when he kicked a superb penalty from 52 metres before the break. The All Blacks came out firing in the second half and levelled the scores when George Smith whipped the ball wide to Sivivatu who crossed out wide two minutes after the restart. The All Blacks then began a period of domination as their superior pack began to assert control, but somehow the Wallabies managed to keep them out.
Henry then replaced Donald with Ma'a Nonu and moved Carter to his usual flyhalf position and the All Blacks immediately looked more dangerous. They went ahead for the first time with 15 minutes to go when McCaw scrambled over in the corner for the winning try. "Discipline... let us down a number of times," said the Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock. "We gave them possession in territory and in penalties."
The Australia coach Robbie Deans brushed off the disappointment of his side again squandering an early lead. "I believe we made progress today and we were possibly more deserving, but not good enough. "We'll adapt. As long as we get consistency we'll be fine." *Reuters