The Wallabies ended the 16 game unbeaten march of the All Blacks by holding the world champions to a dramatic 18-18 draw in Brisbane.
In an emotional final home farewell for Aussie skipper Nathan Sharpe, who was winning his 112th Test, a passion-packed crowd roared on the Wallabies as they chased a win to erase the memory of two earlier defeats this season in the Rugby Champioinship.
There were no tries in the third and final Bledisloe Cup clash of the year and the game was almost turned into a 17th straight win for the Kiwis in the 86th minute when Dan Carter unleashed a last gasp drop goal at the home posts from 30 metres.
The All Blacks had opted to take a scrum in their own 22 with time up on the game clock as they tried to stay on course to challenge Lithuania’s world record of 18 successive international wins.
They did the hard part, by working their way into position for the drop shot steal through some incredibly controlled rugby, but Carter’s kick drifted wide of the right upright.
That left the scores level and gave the Wallabies a huge boost ahead of their four test tour of Europe next month. It was also a huge boost in what was their last home game before the British & Irish Lions arrive for the first Test on 22 June next summer.
The Suncorp Stadium was filled to capacity and the atmosphere was white hot from start to finish as the Aussie fans got in some practice before the Lions arrive next year.
New Zealand –born Mike Harris put the boot into his former countrymen with five penalties and outside half Kurtley Beale landed a monster to give Australia their 18 points. The home side led 12-6 at the break and, with Carter unusually missing with two shots at goal, the Rugby Championship winners looked vulnerable.
Both sides lost a player to the sin-bin, Tony Woodcock for the All Blacks at the end of the first-half and then Michael Hooper for the Wallabies in the second half, but the game was in the balance throughout.
This was the 11th international for the Wallabies of the year and was just the tonic coach Robbie Deans wanted as the countdown to next year’s 125th anniversary Lions tour continues.
The Wallabies play France, England, Italy and Wales to round off their 2012 campaign and then their next three Tests will be against the Lions.