The Wallabies have bounced back from a record loss to the All Blacks last weekend, to defeat their Trans-Tasman rivals 24-22 at Suncorp Stadium.
It was a match marred by controversy with two reds cards shown, and a further two yellows shown as well. But with the scores very close and the clock rapidly approaching the final 10 minutes, it was the Wallabies who took control through a Reece Hodge penalty.
A try to Taniela Tupou in the dying stages all but sealed the famous win for the hosts, despite a try to late inclusion Tupou Vaa’i with a minute left to run on the clock.
Here are five talking points that came out of Bledisloe IV.
History for all the wrong reasons
It was a busy night for referee Nic Berry.
On not one but two occasions, he had to reach into his pocket and send a player off for the remainder of the game.
All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi became the fifth All Black ever to be sent from the field, after he collected Tom Wright’s head with his shoulder.
Wallaby debutant Lachie Swinton did the exact same 12 minutes later, but finding Sam Whitelock instead. It wasn’t exactly a debut to remember for the 23-year-old, who was the first Wallaby ever to be shown a red card on his debut.
Add to that yellow cards to Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete and All Blacks lock Scott Barrett, and you can see how this is a clear talking point.
At one point, it was 13 versus 14.
Poor discipline has cost both teams in big matches before, with a notable example including Scott Barrett once again. Barrett was shown a red card in Perth last year, with the Wallabies running out to a record victory that day.
Clearly, this is an area that both sides have to address as they prepare to face Argentina, to determine who wins this year’s Tri Nations.
Hodge guides Wallabies to win – but should he return to the bench against Argentina?
On Thursday, Wallaby coach Dave Rennie named Australia’s Mr Fix It, Reece Hodge, at flyhalf. The selection was definitely a surprise but wasn’t exactly unheard of.
Injuries to playmakers James O’Connor and Matt To’omua, and a rough debut at 10 for Noah Lolesio last week, opened the door for Hodge to return to the starting side.
It was his short kicking game which helped sent the tone early, with a chip kick in behind the All Blacks defensive line leading to Tom Wright’s opener just a couple of minutes in.
Hodge’s kicking display off the tee was also the difference between winning and losing for the hosts, finishing with a 14-point haul. A late penalty no doubt would’ve prompted flashbacks for All Black fans, after a Hodge penalty helped the Wallabies fight their way to a tough win in 2017 – familiar, right?
That being said, Dave Rennie seemed to suggest post-match that O’Connor would get next crack at the 10 jersey, seeing that he’s healthy and ready to go.
If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see how Hodge fits into Rennie’s starting side if at all, considering how well the backline performed.
Is there a better winger in World Rugby than Marika Koroibete?
A big claim, that’s for sure.
The 2019 John Eales Medallist had some lowlights throughout this year’s Bledisloe Cup series, but the good very much outweighs the bad if you ask me.
He’s a proven try scorer, we know that, but it’s what he’s been doing in defence that has particularly stood out.
In Bledisloe III, the winger sent Wallaby fans into a frenzy with a brilliant try-saving tackle on Caleb Clarke. On Saturday night though, he backed it up with another effort that prevented Sevu Reece from scoring with 30 minutes to play.
Also, consider his big hits in defence generally, and his proven ability to test teams, and he’s got to be in this conversation.
Where was the All Blacks’ structure in attack?
Just a week after a dominant victory over the Wallabies, the All Blacks were blown out of the park.
Clearly, a week is a long time in test rugby.
Ian Foster named a very different side to the one that fronted up last weekend though, with only centre Anton Leinert-Brown able to retain his spot in the backs. Everyone else was either dropped/rested or shifted.
One change that excited fans though was the return of Beauden Barrett in the 10 jersey – but ultimately, this backfired.
Barrett played like a 15 playing flyhalf, which led to mixed results. He held his own in attack at moments, but also overplayed his hand elsewhere – like chipping kicking more than once when it wasn’t working, or attempting a cross-field kick inside your own 22.
The All Blacks needed structure, especially when they went down a man, but they struggled to get on top of it.
TJ Perenara had one of his worst games in a black jersey, while Ngani Laumape also struggled to offer anything other than his occasional trademark runs.
To regain this structure in time for this Saturday’s test against Argentina at Bankwest stadium, selection changes will have to be made.
Time to bring back Richie [Mo’unga] and shift Beauden back.
Suncorp hoodoo continues for All Blacks
In their five meetings in Brisbane since 2011, the All Blacks have won just one test at Suncorp Stadium. That win, might I remind you, was a one-point win courtesy of a Colin Slade conversion after the siren.
All Blacks captain Sam Cane spoke about the difficulty of playing at the venue ahead of Bledisloe IV.
“I see it as a massive challenge for us – I look at our record at Suncorp and it’s something that we’re not proud of,” Cane said.
“Obviously the Wallabies enjoy playing there because they’ve got that record over us but I can’t pinpoint it – stadiums are a funny thing.”
In fact, there hasn’t been a winning margin by more than seven points in the 14 Bledisloe tests held in Brisbane.
Fair to say it’s the All Blacks equivalent of Eden Park? Same can be said for the Wallabies.
The hosts extended their unbeaten run at the venue to seven matches with the 24-22 win, dating back to 2016’s test against England.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now