Long time between drinks at Eden Park
AFTER stopping the All Blacks from securing a record-breaking 18th consecutive victory in the Bledisloe Cup opener which finished in a 12-all draw in Sydney, the Wallabies now face an even bigger challenge in the return match at Eden Park on Saturday night.
The All Blacks have not lost at the famous venue since going down to France 20 years ago, and the last time the Wallabies won at the ground was in September 1986.
That Australian team was coached by controversial radio identity Alan Jones, and included stars such as Andrew Slack, David Campese, Simon Poidevin, Michael Lynagh, and Nick Farr-Jones.
The Wallabies had countless opportunities to win the match in Sydney on Saturday, passing up penalty shots, electing not to try for a field goal and missing a late try.
All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden, called in to replace the injured Daniel Carter, acknowledged the hosts had the better of the match.
"The Australians, especially in the second half, controlled the game really well. You have to give credit where credit is due and I think they controlled the tempo, the game in that second 40 minutes and we were put under immense pressure," Cruden said.
The Chiefs playmaker also said he was proud of the way his team defended under difficult circumstances.
"The boys showed a lot of heart, I thought," Cruden said. "We played 20 minutes of the game with 14 men and the desperation the boys showed for each other, you can't coach that. The desire comes from within and it's good to see it out there and I'm sure we're going to have to see it again this weekend."
If the All Blacks are to win at Eden Park they may have to do so without centre Ma'a Nonu who needed scans yesterday on the shoulder he injured on Saturday night.
Loose forward Jerome Kaino is also an injury worry. He went down in the first couple of minutes with an elbow problem that also needed scans.
Meanwhile, South Africa opened its Rugby Championship with a 13-6 win against Argentina in Pretoria. The Springboks failed to build on the only try of the game from Ruan Pienaar after just 82 seconds, and finished the game defending desperately against the underdogs. Argentina will host the return match in Salta this weekend.
AUSTRALIA 12 (K Beale 4 pens) NEW ZEALAND 12 (A Cruden 4 pens) Crowd 68,627 at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
SOUTH AFRICA 13 (R Pienaar try; H Pollard pen, con; M Steyn pen) ARGENTINA 6 (N Sanchez 2 pens) at Loftus versfeld on Saturday night
- APN SPORTS BUREAU with APNZ