Australia head coach Dave Rennie confirmed that he will seek an explanation from World Rugby about referee Mathieu Raynal’s decision to punish fly-half Bernard Foley for time-wasting in the closing stages of their last-gasp defeat by New Zealand.
The Marvel Stadium in Melbourne may bear the name of the company that licences Spider-Man and other comic book franchises, but frankly, this Bledisloe Cup epic might have been too rich for their tastes.
Ultimately, the All Blacks prevailed thanks to a last-gasp try from Jordie Barrett. But an extraordinary chain of events brought the jaw-dropping denouement. Australia, dead and buried at 31-13 down in the second half, had carved out a 37-34 lead despite three yellow cards and appeared to have completed a stunning comeback.
But after the hosts ground out a potentially decisive penalty in front of their own try line, Foley, hitherto excellent at fly-half, gave up a five-metre scrum offence when Raynal penalised him for time-wasting. That brought the final plot twist in a game for the ages.
“We were just understanding the line-out call,” said Foley of the incident later. “The ref said ‘time off’. It’s just disappointing that after how good that game was, we’re talking about the referee.”
“I haven’t seen a decision like that at any level,” added Dave Rennie, the Australia head coach, who confirmed he will seek an explanation for Raynal’s actions.
“I think you’ve got to have a feel, a feel for the game and the situation. So if you feel a team’s wasting time, then stop the clock, then they kick it out, and then you play the game and the teams decide it. [It was] just a real lack of feel for the situation.”
Andrew Kellaway had scored twice for Australia and Pete Samu, the all-action flanker, capped a wonderful performance with an athletic finish. Richie Mo’unga, who bagged 19 points, and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, the scorer of two tries, starred for the All Blacks. Truly, this Rugby Championship has been a manic, intoxicating tonic to a choppy period for the sport.
In an arrowhead formation behind their skipper James Slipper, the hosts advanced on the haka. Unfortunately for them, the defiant gesture was followed by fragility as Richie Mo’unga’s kick-off caused havoc.
Jed Holloway missed the ball after being lifted and Marika Koroibete could not clean up either. Len Ikitau was bundled into touch on the edge of his own 22, allowing New Zealand to go to work.
Capping a series of mauls that drew penalties, the backs piled in and Taukei’aho dotted down. Mo’unga converted and continued to tease the Wallabies with the variety of his kicking.
Although a long-range effort from Jordie Barrett faded wide, the All Blacks hit double figures in the 12th minute as their fly-half punished a breakdown offence by splitting the posts.
With Brodie Retallick prominent in his first Test start since July, and Hoskins Sotutu posing questions, the visitors looked dangerous. To their credit, though, Australia responded.
Tom Wright was sent through the middle by Pete Samu from a lovely over-the-top line-out strike, which earned three points. Foley, who had last represented the Wallabies at the 2019 World Cup, kicked the goal and then helped to put Kellaway clear.
A try could have levelled up the contest. Rieko Ioane had other ideas. He showed electric pace and no little skill to scramble back and stop the ball from being grounded with the help of Mo’unga.
Still the Wallabies fought, and used their own driving maul to fracture New Zealand. Valetini crashed over, Foley added the extras and Dalton Papali’i was sent to the sin bin just two minutes after joining the action as a replacement for Sam Cane.
Samu’s bristling surge kept the 14 men of New Zealand on the reverse and, even though Scott Barrett rose for a vital line-out steal, Australia’s scrummaging forced a set-piece penalty.
On the half-hour mark, the All Blacks needed a desperate stand and appeared to be in dire straits when Ikitau and then Samu shunted close. Then Quinn Tupaea swooped to win a turnover.
Clarke stormed through the defensive line, beating a number of gold shirts. When he was dragged down, Australia copped two yellow cards at the same breakdown.
Wright was dismissed for slowing down the ruck illegally and Darcy Swain, sent off against England, suffered the same fate for an ugly shoulder-charge that buckled the knee of Tupaea. Ben Whitehouse, the Welsh television match official, intervened to highlight how Swain had targeted the lower-limb of an opponent.
Tupaea became the latest to limp out of the action, with Swain possibly fortunate not to be shown red by Raynal.
Now it was New Zealand’s turn to be thwarted. Taukei’aho spilled over the line at the tail of a maul under pressure from Jake Gordon and Beauden Barrett, on for Tupaea, fumbled a more expansive movement after the All Blacks had won a scrum against the head.
Australia reached the haven of half-time with the game tied at 10-10, but could not survive with 13. Sam Whitelock secured the restart and Beauden Barrett sent a kick-pass across to Will Jordan, who punted ahead to find a huge pocket of space in the absence of Wright.
New Zealand chased, earned a breakdown turnover and Taukei’aho trucked over powerfully with colleagues queuing up on his outside. A 17-10 advantage should have been extended with another breakaway from the next restart, but Sotutu put boot to ball as Retallick called for a pass.
In keeping with the pattern of the first half, the Wallabies rallied. Foley kicked his second penalty as Wright and Swain returned. Australia did not keep their full complement for long, though. A New Zealand maul gathered momentum and Gordon was sin-binned for collapsing.
The visitors went to the corner but spun the ball into midfield. Mo’unga ghosted past Foley from a second wave and finished well amid the attentions of Koroibete. A fourth try arrived rapidly. Again, it was created by the All Blacks’ kicking craft.
With the Wallabies mindful of wide attacks, Jordan roamed off his wing to sit in the shadow of Beauden Barrett. The latter lifted a deft chip over the defensive line. A gliding Jordan did the rest, collecting the ball and slaloming in.
Tyrel Lomax was lucky not to bring the count of yellow cards five, the New Zealand tighthead lifting Folau Fainga’a and dumping Australia’s reserve hooker to the deck. Foley punished the All Blacks in a different way, darting at the line and flipping an offload to Kellaway.
This time, the red-headed full-back would not be denied and he added his second try within five minutes to set up an enthralling finale. Foley was the architect once more, swinging a long pass away from an Australia maul. The ice-cool conversion made it 31-27.
Mo’unga restored a seven-point advantage by kicking a penalty but Samu would have the next say on this Antipodean ding-dong. After a passage orchestrated by White zig-zagging between rucks, he escaped out wide from Koroibete’s pass before another exchange allowed Samu to score. Foley was never missing the touchline conversion.
Whereas their evening had begun with a botched kick-off, Australia’s solidity brought a lead. They earned territory and Valetini jackalled to win the penalty. White stepped up from 50 metres out. The strike was true. And still there would be further drama.
With a New Zealand drive bearing down on the try-line, players broke away. Lalakai Foketi was on the spot to earn a breakdown penalty out of Raynal. But then came the defining moment. Foley was warned not to delay his clearance. He did so, for too long, and Raynal awarded a put-in to the All Blacks five metres out.
Akira Ioane broke off the base, setting up a sequence that ended with Jordie Barrett scoring from Jordan’s offload. And that was that. Marvel will be in touch with both teams about the movie script.
Scoring sequence: 0-5 Taukei’aho try, 0-7 Mo’unga conversion, 0-10 Mo’unga penalty, 3-10 Foley penalty, 8-10 Valetini, 10-10 Foley conversion, 10-15 Taukei’aho try, 10-17 Mo’unga conversion, 13-17 Foley penalty, 13-22 Mo’unga try, Mo’unga conversion 13-24, 13-29 Jordan try, 13-31 Mo’unga conversion, 18-31 Kellaway try, 20-31 Foley conversion, 25-31 Kellaway try, 27-31 Foley conversion, 27-34 Mo’unga penalty, 32-34 Samu try, 34-34 Foley conversion, 37-34 White penalty, 37-39 J Barrett try
Australia starting XV: A Kellaway; T Wright, L Ikitau (N White 53), L Foketi: B Foley, J Gordon (J Petaia, 62); J Slipper, (S Sio, half-time) D Porecki (F Fainga’a, 57), A Alaalatoa (P Fa’amausili, 72), J Holloway, M Philip (F McReight, 51), R Leota (D Swain, 35), P Samu, R Valetini
New Zealand starting XV: J Barrett; W Jordan, R Ioane, D Havili (Q Tupaea, 14, B Barrett 36), C Clarke; R Mo’unga, A Smith (F Christie, 75); E de Groot (G Bower, 51), S Taukei’aho (D Coles, 62), T Lomax (F Newell, 58), B Retallick, S Whitelock, S Barrett, S Cane (D Papali’i, 24), H Sotutu (A Ioane, 69)
Yellow cards: Papali’i 26, Wright 36, Swain 36, Gordon 51
Referee: M Raynal
Australia can have zero complaints. The (Aussie) pundit described it as the "worst refereeing decision" they’d seen.
Not on this evidence!
78.50: Raynal – "Play on please".
78.55: Raynal – "Quick play".
78.56: Raynal blows time off. "Time off.
7 seconds elapses. "You play now. Time on."
78.59: Raynal "Ten?" – Foley looks back, begins kick.
79.04: Blows freekick
39 seconds had elapsed
Absolutely gutted. I don’t know wat to say. We really wanted to put in a performance but we just fell short. It was the most gutting way to finish the game.
It’s hard to see from the bench [what happened with Foley] but we were confident. We had the momentum in the last 20 but the All Blacks are a good team.
When you play them you have to make everything count and take your opportunities – and everything in that last 20 was in our hands. We blew it.
… Australia can’t have any complaints. But what a time for rugby union to decide that the letter of the law actually matters.
World Rugby Law 20.5: "A penalty or free-kick must be taken without delay"
Mo’unga missed the kick.
But that is that. The Melbourne crowd is stunned.
Even if he was wrong, what a monstrous and courageous call that was from Raynal at the end.
They’ll be talking about that for years!
They’ve done it. Chaos!
What an offload from Jordan, who stepped into two Wallabies defenders and got the arms free to send Barrett into the corner.
The kick is futile. New Zealand win!
New Zealand keep it tight off the scrum, they’re within a metre.
Coles dives and thinks he’s there. They’re going out wide…
Oh my word.
Foley has been done for time-wasting on the clearance kick! from the penalty. Unprecedented.
It’s a New Zealand scrum on the Wallabies five-metre line with seconds remaining.
Penalty Australia! Wallabies repel the maul well but just as it looks as if it’s getting to the line, it splinters into two.
New Zealand leave the man with the ball behind and Australia swarm and win the holding-on penalty.
The drama never stops here.
It’s a penalty to New Zealand from the restart for sealing off but they turn down the three points and go for the jugular in the corner.
Here we go!
Australia lead! Three minutes left!
An outrageously cool, languid strike from White. It never looked like it would miss!
Oh that’s so soft from New Zealand.
Good line-out ball on halfway, crashed up in the midfield, but Papalii gets chopped easily and Valetini gets over the ball to win the penalty.
Nic White is about to have a shot at goal from halfway, smack in front. It’s out of Foley’s range…
Australia were 31-13 down at one point, remember.
What. A. Kick.
From wide on the left, Foley adds the extras to level the scores, for the first time since the 40th minute.
What a five minutes to come!
Resignation handed in. I don’t believe it.
It’s out of nothing for the Wallabies. A decent cut-out pass from Koroibete finds Samu in a pocket of space down the touchline on halfway. He accelerates into it and leaves Jordan flailing, before linking back up with Koroibete.
The wing carries before returning a pop pass to Samu out wide who canters over to score.
What a conversion upcoming.
Make that 100 per cent.
Seven points in it. Nine minutes remaining.
Swain is penalised for not rolling away… and it’s kickable.
Mo’unga will have a chance to re-establish a seven-point lead for Australia, bang in front, from 44 metres out.
Sky Sports reckons he has a "65 per cent chance" of getting it, whatever that means…
Can I just shock you? When I said ‘game over’ 20 minutes ago, I was just pulling your leg.
We have a four-point game!
What’s Foley conjuring here. This is like watching the 2015 World Cup!
He fling out the most time-splitting of passes out to the drifting, fading Kellaway, who finishes powerfully out wide.
And massive conversion now.
Penalty Australia at the scrum as New Zealand go early!
Foley gives the Wallabies the line-out on the All Blacks’ 22, which they win and attack under penalty advantage.
Nothing coming, with Retallick jumping across the line-out, so Foley goes into the corner.
How large would a try here be!
The deficit is now just 11.
And Mo’unga puts the restart out on the full!
It’s not going to happen, is it?
That’s vintage Foley. He attacks the line on the Australian 22, draws in two men, gets his arms free and locates Kellaway on a scything out-to-in line.
The full-back has enough gas to get him to the line and we have the embers of a game once again.
Disaster for the Wallabies as they cough up line-out possession and New Zealand clear.
It’s not your conventional exit plan, however; it’s a cross-kick from B Barrett to Clarke.
Kellaway does very well to stop the bulldozing wing on halfway, winning a penalty, too.
Back to the corner Australia go…
Lomax could be in trouble here as he lifts up Fainga’a just over the horizontal.
The Australian replacement hooker is a bit shaken.
Australia get the penalty – but no more – and they go to the corner…
Mo’unga adds the extras, the game slips away from the Wallabies, and the scoreline is a palindrome.
It’s vintage. A delectable chip from B Barrett on halfway is collected on the full by Jordan, and he steps Kellaway and outpaces White to score.
An even tougher ask now with a routine conversion.
The All Blacks with the decoy play in midfield after another maul and Mo’unga accelerates round Ikitau and beats Koroibete to the line.
With that sin-bin and try, it’s a tough ask now for Australia.
New Zealand get the maul going through the gears and Gordon is a human speed-bump.
The Aussie scrum-half doesn’t know much about it but he does technically collapse it, I guess, and the Wallabies are back down to 14.
Excellent kick-chase from New Zealand who pressure Koroibete, with Jordan chopping him and Smith winning the holding-on penalty.
That’s a good sin-bin period for Australia; losing only 7-3 while two men inferior.
This game still very much there for the taking.
Penalty to the Wallabies! Foketi and Koroibete get over the ball on the Kiwi 10-metre line and Foley will have a long-range shot at goal.
And back come to the two sin-bins, too!
This is a New Zealand hurricane!
The All Blacks attack from inside their own half and Ioane finds a half-gap and explodes through it. He links up with Sotutu inside but, inexplicably, the No 8 decides to kick when one-on-one with Kellaway and with Retallick on his inside and Ioane also lingering.
Australia scramble and Ioane is too exuberant in the tackle, slipping up high, and the Wallabies clear from a penalty.
It’s a seven-pointer.
Once again, Australia couldn’t have started the half worse.
Kellaway does well in recovering and returning a kick under pressure from Ioane but New Zealand swarm and force the turnover with the Wallabies slow to react.
The depleted Wallabies try to scramble across but there are too many numbers out wide. The hooker dummies, beats the drift, steps back inside and surges over for his second.
A fascinating eight or so minutes in store with Australia down to 13.
Like much of this year’s Rugby Championship, at times it hasn’t been that pretty, but it has been captivating and chaotic.
New Zealand, who started the half far the better side, have been ravaged by injuries in the backline. Australia fought back to all square on the scoreboard but then lost two players to the bin at the end of the half. How the navigate the opening period of the second half will be key to the outcome of this match.
And was Swain lucky to have escaped with just yellow for his clear-out on Tupaea, with the centre carried off with a serious-looking knee injury? Many on social media believe yes.
Mega scrum from New Zealand – but how have they butchered this!?
They turn the ball over and whip it wide, with numbers, but B Barrett – on for Tupaea – knocks on, Ioane is in front, and Australia have the penalty!
The Wallabies are clinging on.
No try – a great defensive job from Gordon!
Australia clear and Ioane knocks on. A good minute or so for Australia. Scrum Wallabies on their own 22.
New Zealand think they have scored from the maul – Taukei’aho again.
But the on-field decision is knocked on. We’re going upstairs…
Cane has failed his HIA and we’re off up to the TMO.
Swain has attacked Tupaea’s knee in the clean-out, which is why the centre is down injured.
That Clarke break has seen Australia reduced to 13!
There are bodies everywhere, Tupaea is in a lot of pain.
Previously, Clarke took New Zealand 60 metres up the field after a delicate pass from Sotutu. The Wallabies haul him down, but Wright blocks the quick ball on the Wallaby 22 and he wing is off to the bin.
Australia huff and puff and try to blow the house down.
They’re within a metre; Samu has a go, so too Ikitau, but the New Zealand defence is desperate and excellent.
What a moment! After 15 phases on the line, Tupaea is the hero with the holding-on penalty.
And New Zealand clear.
Swain is on for Leota, incidentally.
Australia penalty at the scrum!
Where’s this come from?
To the corner they go…
It’s amazing how momentum can turn.
Samu breaks from the Wallabies 22 before they put boot to ball and Koroibete is like a human Excoet as he flies into Clarke.
Australia pile in and New Zealand are under pressure in their own 22 but the All Blacks survive.
Foley adds the extras and now, with 15 against 14 for the next 10 mins, Australia are in the ascendancy!
Raynal deems that New Zealand brought down the maul deliberately as Australia scored, so Papilii goes to the bin, too.
Nothing wrong with that one!
The Wallabies set up the maul comfortably before the splinter group breaks off and gets to the line.
From the next phase, Valetini blasts his way over.
Australia penalty at the scrum as De Groot collapses!
Foley goes to the corner…
Havili left for an HIA, incidentally, and he has failed it. So Tupaea will stay on. Papalii has already replaced skipper Cane in a massive blow for New Zealand. More on that when we have it.
There’s plenty of energy and endeavour from Australia but, just as they had worked themselves into a promising position, Foley spills.
Earlier in the move, Valetini and Taukei’aho’s collision shook half of Melbourne.
Heartbreak for the Wallabies.
But, regardless, Australia seem to have woken up!
We’re going to the TMO for this, but what a turnaround from the Wallabies!
It’s a lovely score, with a gorgeous tip-on from Ikitau to Foley.
Oh no, hang on, I’m not sure he’s got this down – and he had Wright outside him!
Meat and drink for Foley, and Australia have opened their account from bang in front of the posts.
Silky first-phase stuff from Australia!
Samu drifts off the back of a line-out and sticks Wright through a hole out the back, with decoys everywhere.
Wright gets up to the All Blacks’ five-metre line but the visitors fly off their feet and Australia have the penalty.
Slipper and Foley point to the sticks.
The most meaningful attack for Australia and, after Valetini is chopped by Mo’unga, Jordan wins the holding-on penalty after three Wallaby phases.
New Zealand clear, Mo’unga jinks through a gap beautifully following the line-out, but Retallick can’t hold his offload.
After Australia clear, the All Blacks throw in on halfway.
All Blacks steaming along at almost a point a minute here.
Another penalty against Australia. That must be about the fourth in 10 minutes.
This one for diving on a ball emerging from the ruck in midfield, just as the Wallabies were applying pressure with a counter-ruck, too.
Mo’unga points to the sticks…
J Barrett hooks it so the score remains 7-0.
It’s all New Zealand here.
Foley spills a bomb and the All Blacks ignite an attack. Havili chips, Clarke collects inside the Wallaby half, but the wing’s offload to his centre goes to ground.
Penalty New Zealand at the scrum. Lomax demolishes Slipper. New Zealand demolishing Australia, as it stands.
Barrett is having a long-range shot at goal.
A sweet, curling conversion from Mo’unga gives New Zealand the full seven points.
Retallick takes the line-out and New Zealand get the maul motoring.
Havili joins, so too Jordan, but the All Blacks hooker dots down in the corner.
New Zealand are hold up after peeling round the front of the line-out.
But they have penalty advantage for offside. Back to the corner they go…
It’s a pretty disastrous start for the Wallabies as Holloway allows Mo’unga’s kick-off to slip straight through his fingers.
In his defence, there is still plenty of smoke in the air from the pre-match fireworks.
Australia enter the side of the New Zealand line-out and Mo’unga goes to the corner…
It’s Frenchman Matthieu Raynal.
And kick-off is imminent!
(Without crossing the halfway line, of course, they don’t want to overdo it…)
And the Wallabies form an arrowhead in response!
And on the big screen, a VT plays showing pictures of her involvement with Australian and New Zealand rugby.
She handed the trophy to Nick Farr-Jones in 1991, of course.
It’s a sell-out in Melbourne.
We’ll have the anthems, some readings, the haka, and then we might get some rugby.
The big No 8 returns today for his first All Blacks cap in nearly a year.
Other than Ardie Savea – whom Sotutu replaces today due to paternity leave – New Zealand can lack explosiveness in the ball-carry. If Sotutu goes well today, too, then that would put even more pressure on skipper Sam Cane. Imagine a back row of Frizzell (when fit), Savea at openside and Sotutu at No 8. Fearsome.
Why? Might you ask?
Well, it’s to do with the congested Australian sporting calendar, with Aussie Rules and NRL both with packed fixture lists this weekend.
The French ProD2 play matches on a Thursday night and, frankly, I think it’s a trick the English game is missing. There are too many Premiership matches on a Saturday afternoon, which means that no amateur or semi-pro player can go and watch their local professional team in person.
Why not have one on a Thursday night? Derbies, meaning short journeys for away fans, would be perfect!
The saga surrounding the takeover of Worcester Warriors took another bizarre twist this morning, as DCMS mistakenly sent out letters to fans confirming that the stricken club had been placed into administration.
You can read more on that story here.
Australia starting XV: A Kellaway; T Wright, L Ikitau, L Foketi, M Koroibete; B Foley, J Gordon; J Slipper (capt), D Porecki, A Alaalatoa, J Holloway, M Philip, R Leota, P Samu, R Valetini.
Replacements: F Fainga’a, S Sio, P Fa’amausili, D Swain, F McReight, N White, R Hodge, J Petaia.
New Zealand starting XV: J Barrett; W Jordan, R Ioane, D Havili, C Clarke; R Mo’unga, A Smith; E de Groot, S Taukei’aho, T Lomax, B Retallick, S Whitelock, S Barrett, S Cane (capt), H Sotutu.
Replacements: D Coles, G Bower, F Newell, A Ioane, D Papali’i, F Christie, B Barrett, Q Tupaea.
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of today’s Bledisloe Cup clash between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne.
After a weekend off, the Rugby Championship comes back with a bang. And, it is pleasant – and long overdue – with all that is going on in English domestic rugby with Worcester, to be able to talk about the reason why we’re all here in the first place: the rugby.
And southern-hemisphere rugby’s showpiece could not be more finely poised. After heavy wins for New Zealand and South Africa in the last round – against Argentina and Australia respectively – the All Blacks sit atop the standings by a point. The Springboks, Wallabies and Pumas are all tied on nine points, just one behind New Zealand’s tally of 10.
With the All Blacks favourite to overcome their old foe across the ditch today, too – Australia’s injury list, as long as the Great Barrier Reef, does not aid their cause – the visitors would move to within touching distance of the title with victory. Yes, it has not been a vintage tournament in terms of standard, but what a turnaround that would be for Ian Foster and his coaching team, who were on the verge of sackings a month ago.
Detailed team news will follow, but one selection that caught the eye was that of Bernard Foley at fly-half for Australia. The 33-year-old will play his first Test since the 2019 World Cup today, which is also doubling as the opening match in this year’s Bledisloe Cup series.
Foley has played 15 Tests against the All Blacks, winning two, drawing one and losing the rest.
"I think you definitely look at the games and we had some great battles, had a couple of great wins and tight losses that really stung but that’s just part of the journey," he said.
"You always wished you can get one more crack, one more taste, so for me to be back here is just making the most of it."
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