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The greatest Wallaby wins on New Zealand soil

By Adam Julian
George Gregan with ball in hand for the Wallabies. Scott Barbour/ALLSPORT


The Wallabies have won only five of their last 20 Test matches and head to New Zealand for their penultimate international before the World Cup with a dire record across the Tasman.

Australia has only won 15 times in 81 matches and hasn’t won on Kiwi soil in 28 matches stretching back to 11 August 2001 when they beat the All Blacks 23-15 at Carisbrook in Dunedin.

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Jonah Lomu scored a try in the opening minutes of his 50th Test, but it was downhill for the hosts from there. Against an Australian side that held the World Cup and had just beaten the British and Irish Lions, a penalty try and 18 points from Matthew Burke ensured Australia retained the Bledisloe Cup.

All Blacks captain Anton Oliver was later criticised for turning down a handy penalty that would have secured the All Blacks a bonus point in what was then the Tri-Nations which Australia went on to win.

The Wallabies’ first win in New Zealand was on 20th September 1913 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch. They won the third and final Test of the series 16-5. Dudley Suttor scored two tries for the Wallabies and later served in WWI before working in the orchards. Classic Wallabies noted:

“Dudley Suttor had that great attribute that all top-class wingers need – speed – and he could use his extreme pace to fashion scoring chances where none seemed to exist.”


Australia is paying $23 on the TAB to win on Saturday.


29th August 1964 at Athletic Park, Wellington, 20-5

Australia wasn’t given much chance of winning the third Test in 1964. They’d lost the previous two Tests and struggled past Bush 19-13 in their final midweek fixture.

However, Men and Black reported, “It was soon obvious that the Wallaby team, playing with great resolution, were going to be difficult to beat.”

The only points of the first half were a try scored by winger Stewart Boyce. Peter Johnson won a tighthead and brilliant halfback Ken Catchpole caught the All Blacks short on the blindside.

A penalty to fullback to Terry Cassey doubled the Wallabies advantage before first-five Peter Murdoch scored for New Zealand after receiving a pass from halfback Des Connor who represented both countries.


A turning point was at 6-5 when Phil Hawthorne nailed a 40-metre drop goal. The lethargic All Blacks pack couldn’t rally and precise kicking by Casey and a second try to Boyce secured Australia their largest victory in New Zealand.

The fallout would be spectacular for the All Blacks. It was the last Test for Don Clarke, Sir John Graham, Ralph Caulton, Allan Stewart, and Barry Thomas who collapsed in the dressing room with serve concussion. It was the only time Ken Gray lost in 50 matches for the All Blacks and the only time Colin Meads played No.8.

Stewart’s twin brother Jim also played for the Wallabies. Hawthorne (21 Tests) later switched codes to league and became a dual international when chosen for the Kangaroos against Great Britain in 1970.

The Wallabies captain was John Thornett who captained his country in 16 out of 37 Tests.


9th September 1978, Eden Park, Auckland, 30-16

The All Blacks had retained the Bledisloe Cup prior to the third Test but wins against Wanganui, Bay of Plenty and North Auckland hinted the tourists were improving.

Tragically Wallabies coach Daryl Harbrecht suffered a serious heart attack in the week leading up to the Test. Tony Melrose sat beside Daryl’s wife on a flight from Sydney bound for Auckland just days before his Test debut aged 18.

Remarkably the Wallabies rallied and scored the most points by any team in New Zealand to that point. The hero was No.8, and superannuation consultant, Greg Cornelsen. He scored four tries though, in aggregate, he run less than five meters.

His first came from an Andy Dalton lineout throw that bounced off the goalpost into Cornelsen’s arms. The second came when he was late to a ruck and the ball suddenly popped out in front of him about three yards out from the line. The third benefited from a touch of luck due to the new experimental law which allowed knock-ons from tackles. Right-wing Paddy Batch was crunched by his opposite Bryan Williams. The ball was lost forward and as it reached the tryline Cornelsen grounded it for the score. His final try followed a break on the short side by John Hipwell who threw a pass that was deflected and tumbled favourably for Cornelsen.

Cornelsen didn’t score a try in his other 24 Tests, but briefly owned the record for most points in a Test against the All Blacks. Springboks prop Okey Giffin had scored 15 in 1949.Renowned New Zealand sportswriter Bob Howitt noted:

“Even before he etched his name in the record books with four tries in the [1978] third Test Cornelsen had stamped himself as one of the most talented and constructive No. 8s to tour New Zealand. Fast and strong he got through a terrific amount of ball with minimum effort and maximum efficiency.”

The tourists matched the 1937 Springboks in scoring five tries in a Test on New Zealand soil. The Wallabies’ other try scorer was flanker Gary Pearse.

Greg’s son Jack Cornelsen has played internationally for Japan.

6th September 1986, Eden Park, Auckland, 22-9

The 1986 Wallabies are one of only six teams to have won a Test series in New Zealand with the likes of Simon Poidevin, Nick Farr-Jones, David Campese, and Michael Lynagh all going on to win the 1991 World Cup.

The coach was the controversial but original Alan Jones. He won 89 of 102 matches as Wallabies coach (23 of 30 Tests) including the famed 1984 ‘Grand Slam.’

Australia started strongly when Lynagh kicked a penalty and debutant Andrew Leeds scored from a John Skipworth pass.

The All Blacks played audacious but often careless, rugby. They did close the gap to 12-9 approaching the final quarter but two Lynagh penalties stretched the Wallabies lead to 18-9 before the nail in the coffin was applied.

A pass by David Kirk intended for Craig Green went loose and was swopped upon by Farr-Jones who supplied Campese.

Marty Berry (father of New Zealand Warriors centre Roco Berry) came on for one of the shortest Test debuts ever – the final kick-off.

Men in Black reported: “It had been a comprehensive victory for Australia, who had played some good basic rugby and taking their chances as they arose. Despite a brave and spectacular effort from the All Blacks there had been too many errors.”

It was the last Test for long-serving forwards Mark Shaw (30 Tests) and Garry Knight (36 Tests).

1st August 1998, Lancaster Park, Christchurch, 27-23

Australia regained the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 1994 with a clinical and comprehensive victory.

The All Blacks – guilty of 17 turnovers – scored tries to Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu in the final three minutes to make the final score a more respectable, 27-23.

Young lock Tom Bowman gave Australia an early lead with a stunning try bursting down the left wing and side-stepping Lomu. Bowman was something of a revelation in 1998 playing all 12 Tests. He was a World Cup winner in 1999.

When Australia won the World Cup in 1999, they only conceded a single try in six matches. Their resolute defence gave the All Blacks little. Even better was the methodical attack. Following 18 phases Matthew Burke scored what an Australian rugby writer later acclaimed as an ‘ensemble try’.

Second-half tries to Jason Little and Stephen Larkham gave the Wallabies a 27-9 lead as Waltzing Matilda chants broke out in the stands.

Auckland favourite Mark Carter was a controversial selection for the All Blacks bench. He’d won three caps in 1991 but later left for a season of rugby league with the Auckland Warriors in 1996. Carter was shamefully booed onto the field by a restless Christchurch crowd.

The whole All Blacks squad attended the press conference to take accountability for the poor performance. Today Bowman runs an Angus cattle property at Barraba.


5th August 2000, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 24-23

Is there a more iconic moment in Australian rugby than John Eales raising his arms after kicking the winning penalty to retain the Bledisloe Cup against the All Blacks in 2000?

In a classic Test match, Australia raced to a 12-0 lead with tries to Stirling Mortlock and Joe Roff. The All Blacks responded with two tries to Christian Cullen.

The play was exhilarating despite no further tries. Deep in injury time the All Blacks led 23-21 when Wallaby blindside Mark Connors stole a lineout in All Blacks territory. South African referee Jonathan Kaplan then penalised prop Craig Dowd for entering a breakdown on the side. What happened next is best explained by Eales.

“We got the penalty and I thought ‘wow this is fantastic, where’s Stirling?’ I look around and Stirling is not there. Jeremy Paul came up to me and said ‘mate, Stirling is off, it’s your kick’.

“So, all of a sudden you change from being really excited about it to being a bit anxious. But still, as a player, they’re the moments you train for. They’re the moments as a kid in the backyard, I kicked 100 of those trying to win a test for Australia.”

“I’m very, very glad it went over because I think my life and peoples’ memories of me as a rugby player would have been very different If I’d have missed that kick. It would have been ‘you’re the bloke who missed that kick, that cost us the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri-Nations, aren’t you?’. It could have easily been like that.”

South Africa’s honorary consul, Gregory Fortuin later praised All Blacks lock Norm Maxwell and Dr John Mayhew for their sportsmanship in helping Kaplin from the field as he was hurled with abuse and debris from an upset crowd. It was the first Test match at Wellington’s new stadium.


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