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Old 2004-06-25, 10:25   Link #21
Ed & Winry? :O
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Age: 35
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Once more unto the breach...

How will history come to judge this English season? It started with Rugby World Cup celebrations in Sydney, but is now in grave danger of disappearing down a Brisbane dunny on Saturday.

Dallaglio: Looking for a lift

England will appreciate the irony of finishing up where they started out. The whole season - peppered with famous wins and famous losses - has had a distinctly surreal touch to it, and they will be hoping that the conclusion of their epic 11-month journey will be more 'perfect circle' than 'foot of helter-skelter'.

And why not? Rugby can throw up the most startling finales, and no two sides have perfected that art as well as the old foes who will lock horns at the Suncorp Stadium this weekend.

Whilst the All Blacks seem to hold a place of fearful reverence in the minds of the England players, the Wallabies appear to have no such grasp on them - in fact, the tourists have not lost to the two-time world champions since 1999.

But all that is history now - as are the good ol' days of 2003 - and Australia are now overwhelming favourites to thump the Poms on Saturday.

England arrive in Australia licking their wounds and in trouble with the law. They are shedding blood, trophies and respect faster than Joe Rokocoko can run - and they have just 80 minutes left to redeem their season. As last stands come, this one has 'Hollywood' written all over it.

Can Rocky pick himself off the ropes one final time? Definitely.

With the greatest respect to Scotland - who played superbly - England would not have cowered at the sight of the Australian pack that groped their way to the Hopetoun Cup over the last two weekends.

Scotland had the run of things up front, and found the Wallaby defence wanting at times - but, in the end, the blues were just hopelessly outgunned by the brilliance of Australia's runners.

If England can bully the Wallaby pack off the ball and starve Gregan, Larkham and company of possession, there is no reason on earth why they can't win this one.

Then again, New Zealand's tight game were questioned prior to the England series - and the black pack slaughtered the English in the first Test.

With that in mind, England are finding out about the side effects of their new status. Teams seem to grow an extra two inches when they face world champions - four inches if that team happens to be English! - and the tourists will find a rabid Wallaby side waiting for them in Brisbane.

Saturday's result will depend on how much more work Messrs Woodward and Dallaglio can milk out of their men - and I use the dairy analogy consciously: the amount of time the have spent out on the table has been directly proportional to their quality.

Still, England are too good to bid farewell to the season - this season of all seasons - with a fourth consecutive defeat. If the English can summon up the blood for a final push, it will be the Wallabies who will be left with a sour taste in their mouths.

Players to watch:

For Australia: If there was a weak link in the Australian backs it would be Wendell Sailor - quite how he is preferred to Chris Latham remains a mystery. England planners will have marked out an avenue running right past the big wing, and England fly-half Charlie Hodgson will fancy capitalising on Sailor's slow turning circle.

For England: All eyes - most definitely 30 narrowed Wallaby ones - will be on England new boy, Tim Payne, who will undergo a baptism of fire on Saturday. Little is known of Payne in England - let alone Down Under - and the Australian pack will be making sure his fist foray into the Test arena is a miserable one.

Head to head: Lote Tuqiri (Australia) v Tom Voyce (England): Choosing these two for a head to head is probably a bit of a misnomer as both wings tend to come in and look to punch holes in the middle of the park, rather than take on their opposite man. But both showed some fine legs last weekend, and will be relishing the wide spaces of the Suncorp Stadium.

Recent results:

In 2003: England won 20-17 in Sydney (RWC)
In 2003: England won 25-14 in Melbourne
In 2002: England won 32-31 in London
In 2001: England won 21-15 in London
In 2000: England won 22-19 in London
In 1999: Australia won 22-15 in Sydney
In 1998: Australia won 12-11 in London
In 1998: Australia won 76-0 in Brisbane

Prediction: England have just enough in the tank to sign off with a shock win - but it won't be pretty!
Planet Rugby prediction: England by 4 points. prediction: Australia by 9 points.

The teams:

Australia: 15 Joe Roff, 14 Wendell Sailor, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham (vice-captain), 9 George Gregan (captain), 8 David Lyons, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 Radike Samo, 5 Nathan Sharpe (vice-captain), 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Alastair Baxter, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Bill Young.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Daniel Vickerman, 19 George Smith, 20 Clyde Rathbone, 21 Matt Henjak, 22 Chris Latham.

England: 15 Josh Lewsey, 14 Tom Voyce, 13 Mike Catt, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (captain), 7 Richard Hill, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Steve Borthwick, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Julian White, 2 Mark Regan, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Will Green/Mike Worsley, 18 Martin Corry, 19 Michael Lipman, 20 Matt Dawson, 21 Fraser Waters, Ollie Barkley.

Date: Saturday, June 26
Kick-off: 19.00 (09.00 GMT)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Conditions: Clear - min 7°C, max 21°C
Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand)
Touch Judges: Paul Honiss, Lyndon Bray (both New Zealand)
Assessor: Jim Bailey (Wales)
Television match official: Kelvin Deaker
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Old 2004-07-16, 08:25   Link #22
Ed & Winry? :O
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Get set for Tri-nations rugby fever!

Friday July 16 2004
Scores to be settled in Wellington.

Australia and New Zealand both devoured England last month with the frenzy of a sleuth of starved bears. And the world champions were just a light appetiser - the main course is served up this Saturday when the two Antipodean rugby giants lock horns in Wellington in the opening game of the 2004 Tri-Nations.

Wallabies outside centre Stirling Mortlock scores the first try of the match during the 2003 Rugby World Cup semi-final between Australia and New Zealand. Mortlock intercepted a pass from All Black fly-half Carlos Spencer with Australia camped on their try-line to give the home side a massive boost before they prevailed 22-10 in a major upset.

England's disastrous tour served to exorcise some of the horrors experienced by southern rugby fans last year, but some scores remain to be settled.

New Zealand will be intent on avenging their shock 22-10 defeat to the Wallabies in the 2003 RWC semi-final, whilst Australia will be looking to snatch back the Bledisloe Cup after it was wrenched from their grasp last year on the strength of a humbling 50-21 All Black victory in Sydney last year.

Indeed, tensions are sky-high in both camps - with the now customary (and lamentable) pre-match war of words more befitting of teenaged girls than out-sized men.

Wallaby coach Eddie Jones - a journalist's dream if ever their was one - released his trusty cat amongst the pigeons on Thursday by accusing the All Blacks of illegal tactics at the breakdown.

Without taking sides on this matter, Jones has a point: the breakdown area will be absolutely crucial to Saturday's result.

New Zealand's forwards seem to have finally matured, finding the type of grizzle that embodied all the great All Black packs of the past. And, like all their illustrious predecessor, they operate in a very 'streetwise' manner.

Jones is right to fret over the forward battle. Regardless of the legitimacy of their tactics, the gritty All Blacks seem to currently have the nudge over Australia in that area of play.

The absence of the wise old heads of George Gregan and Joe Roff - both outstanding against Scotland, England and the Pacific Islanders - will also affect the Wallabies chances at the Westpac Stadium.

Still, who in their right mind would rule the Australians out? No side in world sport has mastered the art of rising to the big occasions quite like the Wallabies.

Time after time they have beaten the odds, and the New Zealanders will be wise to remember that it was a supposedly 'weak' Wallaby side that sent them reeling out of the World Cup before taking England to the wire in the Final.

This may be the first time that the Tri-Nations kicks off without a world champion in attendance, but few previous editions of this tournament can match the anticipation that precedes this year's curtain-raiser. Get ready for a classic.

Players to watch:

For New Zealand: Waikato Chiefs tyro Jono Gibbes has made a storming start to his Test career and will be looking to underline his promise against the Wallabies. The 27-year-old blindside has given the All Blacks two very valuable extra dimensions: he is a big-hitter in the loose and a proven line-out winner.

For Australia: If you believe that talent can be measured in Test caps, take a look at Chris Whitaker and think again. The 29-year-old has the dubious honour of deputising for the perennially brilliant George Gregan, meaning that he will be starting only his fourth Test this Saturday. But the Waratahs No.9 is a wily operator with an acute eye for the gap, and will be intent on making hay while the sun shines.

Head to head: Carlos Spencer (New Zealand) v Stephen Larkham (Australia): The Australian playmaker has been in sensational form this season, and the Wallaby camp have made no secret of his importance to their cause. With the absence of his halfback partner, expectation will weigh even heavier on his shoulders. Spencer, on the other hand, will be looking to erase the memory of the last time he faced Larkham whilst wearing a black jersey. He'll also be looking to flatten his opposite man after Larkham recently slated the New Zealand No.10 in a recently published book. What were we saying about teenaged girls?

Recent results:

In 2003: Australia won 22-10 in Sydney (RWC)
In 2003: New Zealand won 21-17 in Auckland
In 2003: New Zealand won 50-21 in Sydney
In 2002: Australia won 16-14 in Sydney
In 2002: New Zealand won 12-6 in Christchurch
In 2001: Australia won 29-26 in Sydney
In 2001: Australia won 23-15 in Dunedin
In 2000: Australia won 24-23 Wellington
In 2000: New Zealand won 39-35 in Sydney

Prediction: New Zealand to scrape through on home advantage and a little too much nous up front.
Planet Rugby prediction: New Zealand by 4 points. prediction: New Zealand by 9 points.

New Zealand All Blacks: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga (captain), 12 Daniel Carter, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jono Gibbes, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Kees Meeuws.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Greg Somerville, 18 Jerry Collins, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Byron Kelleher, 21 Nick Evans, 22 Sam Tuitupou.

Australian Wallabies: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham (vice-captain), 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 David Lyons, 7 Phil Waugh (vice-captain), 6 Radike Samo, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Bill Young.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Dan Vickerman, 19 George Smith, 20 Matt Henjak, 21 Matt Burke, 22 Wendell Sailor. 23rd man - John Roe.

Date: Saturday, July 17.
Kick-off: 19.35 local time (07.35 GMT).
Venue: Westpac Stadium - Wellington, New Zealand.
Conditions: Rain - max 13°C, min 8°C.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).
Touch Judges: Mark Lawrence, Shaun Veldsman (both South Africa).
Assessor: Frans Muller (South Africa).
Television match official: Craig Joubert (South Africa).
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Old 2004-07-17, 06:26   Link #23
Ed & Winry? :O
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All Blacks dominate Tri-Nations opener
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Bledisloe Cup retained.

New Zealand beat Australia 16-7 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, thus retaining the Bledisloe Cup and taking a strong step forward to Tri-Nations success. They were full value for their victory as they dominated the match far more comprehensively than the score suggests. The Wallabies were brave in defence, in which the weather was their ally.

Bruising encounter ... All Black Dougie Howlett is tackled by Wallabies' Justin Harrison in Wellington.

Wellington was wet - not especially windy - but wet as the rain teemed down, handling was iffish and footing uncertain.

From Stephan Larkham's first kick-off which went directly into touch, the All Blacks had almost total domination of the first half. The Wallabies had one foray into the All Black 22 while the New Zealanders were several times close to the Australian goal-line. In the second half, too, the Wallaby went twice into the All Blacks 22 - and scored once!

In the first half the All Blacks threw into 18 line-outs, the Wallabies into seven, which is part of the story of getting possession. True the All Blacks lost three but the Wallabies gave up three as well.

In the second half the All Blacks were not penalised at all while the two of the penalties which the All Blacks scored all came from some form of foul play. For the first Brendan Cannon punched Keven Mealamu in the face in what looked like gratuitous violence. For the second, just before the end, Stirling Mortlock tackled Tana Umaga high.

After his first failed kick-off, Larkham followed with more flops as the Wallabies appeared unnerved in the absence of George Gregan and in the face of pressure. Larkham may well have had his worst match in the Wallaby jersey. Lost without Gregan?

Both teams, the best ball-handlers in the world of rugby, battled with passing, but the All Blacks more than the wallabies as they tried to attack.

The Wallabies threatened first when Justin Harrison charged down a Mils Muliaina clearance but Doug Howlett saved and Clyde Rathbone was penalised.

That was the best of the first ten minutes.

Muliaina broke past Stirling Mortlock and the move was carried on till Muliaina kicked and Chris Latham saved.

Kees Meeuws, twice penalised at scrums, worked a clever move at a line-out and the All Blacks attacked but lost the ball.

They got a ball they did not deserve soon afterwards when the referee adjudged the Wallabies to have carried over and gave the All Blacks a five-metre scrum but a skidding pass became a scrum which became a penalty and relieved the pressure on the wallabies - temporarily.

The All Blacks had a good moment from a line-out when Mealamu threw short to Chris Jack who set off with Mealamu to within three metres of the line.

After Daniel Carter had been short with a kick at goal when Phil Waugh stamped on a player some distance from the obvious ball. he goaled one when Al Baxter was penalised at a scrum. Carter later missed one when Bill Young was penalised for playing a man without the ball.

That made the half-time score 3-0 to New Zealand.

The second half was marred by an ugly fight. Cannon punched Mealamu who objected. They were not the only fighters as Justin Harrison, who expressed his dislike for Justin Marshall, and Carlos Spencer also appeared to be doing punching. In the end both hookers - Mealamu and Cannon - were sent to the sin bin, Australia were penalised and Carter made it 6-0.

Twice in the half Chris Whitaker was forced to carry over an All Black grubber. From a five-metre scrum the All Blacks bashed, Joe Rokocoko came from the left and threw a long pass to his right and Doug Howlett had an easy passage to the line. Carter converted. 13-0.

The game looked safe for New Zealand who carried on attacking.

Then the wallabies had two chances, one slight, one realised, both from kicks.

Lote Tuqiri had a long kick but Howlett got back, Wallabies did not arrive and Justin Marshall cleared.

Then Matt Giteau kicked high and seemingly innocuously. But Rokocoko dropped and slipped to the ground. Mortlock dived onto the ball and surfed over under the bar. Giteau converted. 13-7, but that was the Wallabies had no other chances in the match.

With a minute to go Mortlock was penalised and Carter kicked the straightforward kick over.

Man of the Match: Brave as Stirling Mortlock was, and hard as Chris Whitaker tries, the Man of the Match has to be an All Black, the question is who. Chris Jack had a huge game, Keven Mealamu was all action and courage, blotted copybook apart, Tana Umaga was always a handful and Mils Muliaina full of life. But out choice was eventually between Marty Holah who was here there and effectively everywhere and our eventual choice brave, strong, decisive Justin Marshall on a night when the scrumhalf had to be good.

Moment of the Match: There was the joy of Doug Howlett's try, there was Simon Maling's foot through of a skidding pass, and there was the unedifying fight. But our moment is Stirling Mortlock's dive onto the ball as he surfed it over in the flying wet.
Villain of the Match: Brendan Cannon and Keven Mealamu were the men with the yellow cards in which Brendan Cannon looked more guilty than Mealamu.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Howlett
Conversions: Carter 1/1
Penalty Goals: Carter 3
Drop Goals:

For Australia:
Tries: Mortlock
Conversions: Giteau 1/1
Penalty Goals:
Drop Goals:

Yellow card(s): Cannon (Australia, 50th minute), Mealamu (New Zealand, 50th minute).

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).
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Old 2004-07-23, 11:11   Link #24
Ed & Winry? :O
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New Zealand v South Africa
Friday July 23 2004
South Africa seeking redemption in Christchurch

The Springboks will be looking to punctuate the longest losing streak of their illustrious history when they take on New Zealand in the Tri-Nation in Christchurch on Saturday - and satisfy a nation hungry for a return to the 'big time' in the process.

Wayne Julies & Percy Montgomery at Springboks training.

South Africa's previous victory over the All Blacks was the 46-40 win in Johannesburg in 2000, but they haven't tasted success on New Zealand soil since the 13-3 triumph in Wellington in 1998 - the year they won the Tri-Nations.

That win at Athletic Park was part of their 17 consecutive Test wins under coach Nick Mallett - but since that time all has not been so rosy in the Boks backyard.

Until this season, that is.

The advent of new coach Jake White and his cohorts has triggered an upsurge in optimism that stretches from Earl's Court to Cape Town - South Africans everywhere are approaching games with more expectation than fear.

And the same goes for the players. The Boks have looked decidedly different in their recent Tests against Ireland, Wales and the Pacific Islanders - with 'alive' being the word that comes closest to an adequate description.

It seems incongruous to use 'joie de vivre' in association with the traditionally po-faced Boks, but the new crop appear to be inflicted with a severe case of the smiles. They are enjoying their rugby - and enjoying each others' company.

Gone are the furrowed brows, the paranoia, the crippling pressure and the shackles of stringent tactics - gone, too, are most of the old players.

Not a single South African involved in the Tri-Nations clash in Dunedin a year ago is in this weekend's starting line-up, and there are only four survivors from the side that went down 29-9 to the All Blacks at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Gone, too, is the one dimensional 'crash-bang-wallop' that was synonymous with past Bok side. In all their matches this season, the South Africans have looked just as happy reacting to passages of broken play as they have been in their perennially perfect set-piece work.

In short, they've let their hair down, and - peroxide apart - it suits them.

But are these 'new boys' really ready to knock over the mighty New Zealanders in New Zealand?

Like the Boks, the All Blacks' new set-up has - allegedly - righted all the team's wrongs since the 2003 Rugby World Cup. In fact, new coach Graham Henry is credited to have already made their weakest area - their forwards - into their strongest.

Is coaching really that easy? Can revolutions happen over the space of an off-season? Can Messrs Henry and White really be so clever - and Messrs John Mitchell and Rudolf Straeuli such fools?

Well, for all their current poise, the Boks have yet to punch their weight this season - and New Zealand haven't yet had their mettle tested to the full.

Sure, England and Australia are a pair of fine scalps for the All Blacks, but the English were hardly firing on all cylinders and the Wallabies just weren't willing to get their feet wet last week.

Too harsh? It could well be the case that both these two 'new' sides are, indeed, the real McCoy - but there's a lagging suspicion that one of them is faking.

As to which, let Saturday be the judge.

Players to watch:

For New Zealand: South Africa will attempt to cut off wide All Black ball at the source, and will be looking to take a spanner to Daniel Carter. The local hero faces a strong-armed Bok midfield pairing and, having just recovered from illness, could be ripe for the picking.

For South Africa: If there is one man that encapsulates the new Bok aura it is Schalk Burger. The 21-year-old tyro (son of former Bok Schalk Burger Sr.) is enjoying every second of his Test time - and it shows. He combines awesome scavenging ability with an astounding work rate.

Head to head: Greg Somerville (New Zealand) v Os du Randt (South Africa): In what seems like a ploy to combat the 'Os-effect', the one unforced change in the All Black line-up sees Somerville selected to face the resurgent Du Randt. The smaller Somerville will be looking to get underneath the big Bok and neutralise South Africa's scrum. Get ready for some good ol' fashioned front row fun and games!

Recent results:

In 2003: New Zealand won 29-9 in Melbourne (RWC)
In 2003: New Zealand won 19-11 in Dunedin
In 2003: New Zealand won 52-16 in Pretoria
In 2002: New Zealand won 30-23 in Durban
In 2002: New Zealand won 41-20 in Wellington
In 2001: New Zealand won 26-15 in Auckland
In 2001: New Zealand won 12-3 in Cape Town
In 2000: South Africa won 46-40 in Johannesburg
In 2000: New Zealand won 25-12 in Christchurch

Prediction: With rain set for Christchurch, this result will hinge on a massive forward battle. New Zealand to squeeze the visitors out by dint of experience and home advantage. prediction: New Zealand by 14 points.
Planet Rugby prediction: New Zealand by 7 points.

The teams:

New Zealand All Blacks: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga (captain), 12 Daniel Carter/Sam Tuitupou, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Simon Maling, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Kees Meeuws.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Craig Newby, 20 Byron Kelleher, 21 Nick Evans, 22 Sam Tuitupou/Andrew Mehrtens.

South African Springboks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean de Villiers, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Jacques Cronjé, 7 AJ Venter, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Albert van den Berg, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt.
Replacements: 16 Brent Russell, 17 Gaffie du Toit, 18 Bolla Conradie, 19 Quinton Davids, 20 Joe van Niekerk, 21 Faan Rautenbach, 22 Danie Coetzee.

Date: Saturday, July 24
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Venue: Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Conditions: Chance of showers - max 10°C, min 0°C.
Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia)
Touch Judges: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Matt Goddard (Australia)
Assessor: David Kerr (Scotland)
Television match official: Brett Bowden (Australia)
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Old 2004-07-24, 20:23   Link #25
Ed & Winry? :O
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Saturday July 24 2004
The Springboks are back!

An inspired South Africa gave the All Blacks the fright of their lives on Saturday by taking a lead into the final minute of the Tri-Nations clash in Christchurch, but Doug Howlett broke South African hearts by sliding over for a last-gasp winning try. The Boks won 3-1 on tries, but the spoils go to the home side who finished the day 23-21 to the good.

Howlett: Struck in the last minute

It was a thriller as the All Blacks attacked and attacked, battered and battered, and then got it wide to Howlett who scored in the corner to win the match. The Springboks might have scored three tries to one - but they gave away a heap of penalty.

The victory puts the All Blacks well clear at the top of the Tri-Nations with successive victories, but both at home and each with only a single try.

As against Australia, the All Blacks dominated possession and territory but as against Australia they - with their much-vaunted back-line - scored only one try, and that at the death.

The score was 21-18 to the Springboks as the All Black wave broke over the visitors again and again, breaking on the rocks of determined defence till it went wide and there was nobody left to tackle Howlett. It was the All Blacks' only real chance of a try and they took it - with ecstatic gratitude.

It was a reward for the grip they had on the game but especially on the second half when they kept the Springboks point-less. The All Blacks were aided by a powerful display in the scrums, where the Springboks were expected to dominate, and a penalty count of 13-5 in their favour.

It was icy cold, crisp, wind free and dry at Jade Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday night.

The Springboks ended the first half leading 21-12, but more significantly three tries to zero.

The first try came before half a minute had run. Jaco van der Westhuyzen kicked off to start. Marty Holah gathered the rolling kick and charged ahead. The All Black forwards gathered, the ball came back and John Smit of South Africa was there to pick up.

He passed to Van der Westhuyzen who passed to De Wet Barry who did a switch with Jean de Villiers. Tackled short De Villiers was able to place the ball for a try in the left corner.

Percy Montgomery converted. 7-0.

Then the All Blacks settled in Springboks territory and garnered penalties. Daniel Carter's first kick bounced back off the upright but then he goaled three in a row to make the score 9-7 to New Zealand.

But the Springboks came back. They won their scrum which disintegrated. Fourie du Preez picked up, put his head down and charged.

He chipped feebly but AJ Venter gathered the ball and got a brilliant pass out to Jacques Cronjé, who had earlier lost the ball three times. This time he caught it and plunged over in that left corner. Again Montgomery converted. 14-9.

Carter responded by adding yet another penalty before the third - and final - Bok try. Montgomery countered sharply and with acceleration from a Mils Muliaina kick. Marius Joubert ran strongly past Greg Somerville and got an awkward pass to Schalk Burger who managed to control the ball and get it to Du Preez who went over in the same corner, from which Montgomery goaled again.

In that half the All Blacks came fairly close once but were well tackled. The Springboks had a gilt-edged chance when Cronjé knocked on with a four-to-one opportunity.

In the second half Carter kicked two more penalties and then when he went off Carlos Spencer kicked one. That made it 21-18 with 11 minutes to go.

The Springboks were close-ish on two occasions, both from Breyton Paulse chips. On the first occasion they were close to getting a five-metre scrum as Muliaina took the ball back for the touch down and once when Joe Rokocoko beat Paulse to the ball and Paulse was penalised.

Then came the victory attack in which Tana Umaga created a telling break and strong replacement Byron Kelleher was an effective presence in everything.

Two moments had a serious bearing - the Springbok scrum which the All Blacks wheeled to get the put-in and the long throw the Springboks took at a defensive line-out that went awry and created a scrum to New Zealand, six metres out and slap in front.

Man of the match: Byron Kelleher in his effective quarter of an hour is a candidate as were Kees Meeuws whose scrummaging has been so powerful and meaningful for New Zealand, Chris Jack who was great at line-outs and with ball in hand, Joe Rokocoko who made things out of bits and pieces, Mils Muliaina looked to run whenever possible and Keven Mealamu who does not stop. Percy Montgomery meant much to the Springboks and Jaco van der Westhuyzen had probably his best match at fly-half. But our Man of the Match is all-action Schalk Burger who had a huge effect on the match and was certainly the dominant loose forward on the field, just shading strong AJ Venter.

Moment of the Match: All four tries were glittering moments against a black backdrop. The brightest pair were early and late - the Springboks' try in the first minute and the All Blacks' in the last. But the Moment of the Match was doubtless the last moment as the ball went from Kelleher to Spencer. He sent a long pass to Mils Muliaina with Brent Russell coming at him. Muliaina gave the sweetest of passes to Doug Howlett who surfed over in the victorious corner.

Villain of the Match: None, because it was hard but well-mannered, though two penalties for high tackles by De Wet Barry brings him closest to villainy.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Howlett
Conversions: Spencer 0/1
Penalty Goals: Carter 5, Spencer
Drop Goals:

For South Africa:
Tries: De Villiers, Cronjé, Du Preez
Conversions: Montgomery 3/3
Penalty Goals:
Drop Goals:

Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia)
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Old 2004-07-24, 22:52   Link #26
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Watched the South Africa vs New Zealand game last night, what a nail biter!! I really thought New Zealand was going to lose and I was not happy!!
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Old 2004-07-25, 01:24   Link #27
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Originally Posted by Sexy-no-Jutsu
Watched the South Africa vs New Zealand game last night, what a nail biter!! I really thought New Zealand was going to lose and I was not happy!!
Yep, I thought it was a pretty average performance by the All Blacks. Three tries to one in favour of the Springboks. The blame can be probably pointed towards the stomach-bug affecting 5-6 players prior to the match.

Looks like we've got the South Africa of old back in the Tri-Nations - players like fullback Percy Montgomery, winger Breyton Paulse, prop Os du Randt, & captain/hooker John Smit; looking forward to seeing how they will carry that confidence when they meet the Wallabies in Perth next week!
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Old 2004-07-30, 22:13   Link #28
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Friday July 30 2004
The battle for possession is paramount

After letting the All Blacks off the hook in Christchurch last weekend, South Africa go into Saturday's Tri-Nations clash with Australia knowing that anything other than a win will be a backwards step in what has been an otherwise encouraging trajectory this season.

Smit v Gregan: Clash of the captains

The challenge facing the Boks is whether they can put the memory of last week's last minute reversal out of their minds, and build on the multiple positives of the 79 and a half minutes that preceded the sight of Doug Howlett's heels.

Call it clichéd, but Bok coach Jake White will surely be giving a stirring 'what are you made of' speech ahead of the battle - as, indeed, will his opposite number Eddie Jones, whose players also have a few gremlins nesting in their heads.

The Boks may have been guilty of some very naive play in the closing stages of the Christchurch match, but Australia were unable to compete with the All Black pack for the entire duration of their 16-7 loss in Wellington a fortnight ago.

It was a performance totally unbecoming of a double world champion, and a performance they will be gunning to dismiss as an anomaly this Saturday.

But having made a better fist of controlling the All Black pack, the Boks will fancy their chance of getting the nudge on the Wallaby forwards.

Should the visitors also be able to replicate the type of rambunctious defence that upset the dynamic duo of Justin Marshall and Carlos Spencer - whilst staying on the right side of the law - the Boks could be in line for their first win over the Wallabies on Australian soil since their 14-13 win in Perth in 1998.

However, given the strength of the Australian backline, South Africa will be hoping from a helping hand from the heavens. Unfortunately for the Boks, the rain clouds over Western Australia appear to be drifting off into the Indian Ocean, giving Australia the green light to replicate the kind of back-foot rugby that slewed England - another team with a giant pack of forwards - some weeks ago.

The Wallabies will also be buoyed by the return of their little general, George Gregan, who returns to injury lay-off to win his 100th cap, becoming just the fourth member of Test rugby's most exclusive club.

The Wallabies' tormentor-in-chief will be relishing his encounter with the Boks' athletic back row, and will be looking to expose South Africa's muscular rush-defence with some trademark slight of hand.

After all, he's not the sort of bloke who would enjoy having his big day marred with a home defeat.

Players to watch:

For Australia: South African-born Clyde Rathbone captained the Boks to victory in the 2002 Under-21 World Championships before deciding that his future lay in Australia, and his former brother-in-arms will be determined to show the Brumbies star that he made a grave error of judgment. Indeed, Rathbone can expect a tough evening - his old mates have vowed to expose his 'weakness' under the high ball.

For South Africa: It may be a little harsh to point an accusing finger at the new captain of a new team in new era, but a more experienced campaigner than John Smit would have surely slammed the door in the All Blacks face last week. His decision-making will be key in Perth.

Head to head: With neither side managing to win more the 30 percent of the ball against the All Blacks, the tussle for possession will be of paramount importance on Saturday. South Africa's triumvirate worked miracles in Christchurch, cooking up a feast off meagre scraps. Australia know they need to secure the 50/50 ball, and field both their scavengers - George Smith and Phil Waugh - in order to achieve this.

Recent results:

In 2003: Australia won 29-9 in Brisbane
In 2003: South Africa won 26-22 in Cape Town
In 2002: South Africa won 33-31 in Johannesburg
In 2002: Australia won 38-27 in Brisbane
In 2001: Match drawn 14-14 in Perth
In 2001: South Africa won 20-15 in Pretoria
In 2000: Australia won 19-18 in Durban
In 2000: Australia won 26-6 in Sydney
In 2000: Australia win 44-23 in Melbourne

Prediction: The visitors should have the upper hand up front, and should be able to dictate the game. Discipline in defence will be the key for the Boks - if they are able to keep the penalties down they will come away with a famous away win.
Planet Rugby prediction: South Africa by 3 points. predication: Australia by 6 points.

The teams:

Australian Wallabies: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan (captain), 8 David Lyons, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 George Smith, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 Bill Young.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Daniel Vickerman, 19 John Roe, 20 Chris Whitaker, 21 Matthew Burke, 22 Wendell Sailor.

South African Springboks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean de Villiers, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Jacques Cronjé, 7 AJ Venter, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Gerrie Britz, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt.
Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Joe van Niekerk, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Gaffie du Toit, 22 Brent Russell.

Date: Saturday, July 31
Kick-off: 18.00 local time (10.00 GMT)
Venue: Subiaco Oval, Perth
Conditions: Scattered clouds - max 18°C, min 8°C
Referee: Chris White (England)
Touch Judges: Steve Walsh, Lyndon Bray (both New Zealand)
Assessor: David Kerr (Scotland)
Television match official: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
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Old 2004-07-30, 22:39   Link #29
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I watched my first Rugby game while in New Zealand on July 17th 2004. It was the All BLACKS vs. THE WALLABIES. What a thrill!!!!!!!! Sounds like you people here are not big ALL BLACK Fans. As I was introduced to it by New Zealanders, I became an OFFICIAL ALL BLACK fan. So here is my opinion........the ALL BLACKS ROCK!!!!! Just hope you can all handle having me support them
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Old 2004-07-31, 09:31   Link #30
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Wallabies pip the Boks in thriller
Saturday July 31 2004
Clyde Rathbone delivers killer blow

Australia weathered one of rugby's most protracted cliff-hangers to secure a tense 30-26 victory over South Africa in Perth on Saturday. The Boks lead for long periods of the game, but in the end it was South Africa-born Wallaby Clyde Rathbone who delivered the coup de grace with a try in the 71st minute of play.

Rathbone: Not popular back home

The match at the Subiaco Oval was filled with drama for the 42,000 crowd. The Wallabies scored four tries and thus won a bonus point. South Africa got a bonus point for losing by less than seven points.

Rathbone's winning try - which took a careful effort from the television match official - was scored in the right corner with replacement Matt Burke kicked the difficult conversion to put South Africa out of penalty goal range.

As the final whistle was imminent, the Springboks threw everything at the Wallabies in search of a winning try - but to no avail.

Part of South Africa's problem was their inability to win possession. They lost seven line-outs to the more completive Wallabies, and threw one in skew. They also lost a sloppy scrum. In addition, they again conceded more penalties than their opponents.

There was a great moment to start the match when George Gregan led his side out in his 100th Test, securing his status as one of the great players of rugby's history.

South Africa played into a stiff breeze in the first half as rain happened intermittently, but they led 16-15 at the interval.

South Africa scored first after they ran from a line-out and kept possession through several phases until Clyde Rathbone was penalised for going to ground at a tackle near the touch-line, and Percy Montgomery's kick went through off the up-right.

Then came a wonderfully athletic Australian try. From a line-out after AJ Venter had been penalised, Stephen Larkham kicked a right-to-left high diagonal ball. Montgomery and Breyton Paulse were in the vicinity of the dropping ball but it was winger Lote Tuqiri who out jumped them, caught cleanly, twisted and scored. Matt Giteau converted from far out and after six minutes the Wallabies led 7-3.

South Africa responded by launching an attack on the left. Paulse came running round from the right wing and gave a pass to Jean De Villiers which looked forward. The wing, just in from touch, rushed ahead and then grubbered left-footed down into the Wallaby in-goal where Jaco van der Westhuyzen fell on it to score. Montgomery's conversion, relatively easy, went astray.

The Springboks come were close again when Montgomery counter-attacked sharply and only a brilliant tackle by Giteau on De Villiers saved the Wallaby line.

When Al Baxter was penalised at a scrum, Montgomery made it 11-7 to South Africa.

After Venter had been penalised for an early tackle the Wallabies mounted an attack. They seemed to have an overlap but the pass to Rathbone went into touch. Still the Wallabies attacked, and the Springboks scored!

On the bind side, Larkham passed to his right. De Villiers stuck out a hand, caught the ball and sprinted some 95 metres to score in the corner. 16-7

Fourie du Preez kicked downfield. Tuqiri marked and suddenly Chris Latham was running. This created much space for the Wallabies on their right. Only an ankle-tap stopped Giteau until eventually the ball was out at the corner flag with a line-out to the home side.

The Wallabies mauled from the line-out but the Springboks shoved them sharply back. But Gregan got the ball to Larkham who slipped the rushing Van der Westhuyzen and got over in a tackle. Again an easy conversion was missed. 16-12 to South Africa.

After the Springboks had lost successive line-outs Gerrie Britz went off-side five metres from his line and slap in front of the posts. Giteau made it 16-15.

Another Bok indiscretion early in the second half gave Giteau another penalty goal when Bakkies Botha was penalised for toppling Nathan Sharpe in a line-out. Australia led 18-16.

Soon afterwards the Wallabies used their hands in the ruck and stole pack the lead with a penalty.

Giteau missed a penalty from in front, but the Wallabies ran the drop-out back. Larkham skidded past Eddie Andrews before feeding Latham who rushed it on, bumping off Montgomery to score. 23-19 to Australia.

At this stage Gaffie du Toit was on for De Villiers. De Wet Barry grubbered left-footed towards the Wallaby line and Du Toit brilliantly gathered the ball just short of the line and managed to touch down with Rathbone and Latham closing in. Du Toit scored far out and Montgomery converted. 26-23 to South Africa with 16 minutes to go.

Rathbone ran back in counter and beat three men to put the Wallabies back on the attack. Burke broke and Latham sent out a brilliant, long pass to Rathbone who squeezed in on the right as Du Preez tackled him.

The Wallabies were close again when Latham appeared to lose the ball into the Springbok in-goal from which Du Preez ran and hoofed downfield. Rathbone saved brilliantly and - after a long period of play - Latham's action was referred to the television match official.

It was not a try, but in the proceeding passage of play Marius Joubert and Stirling Mortlock et al had an emotional moment which became a penalty to South Africa which they ran and ran and ran - phase after phase - without really troubling the yellow defence.

Man of the Match: There are many candidates - for Australia Nathan Sharpe who did so much to deny the Springboks possession, George Smith who got his mitts just about everywhere, Clyde Rathbone and Lote Tuqiri with their strong running and Stephen Larkham for three moments of genius which made tries, and for South Africa ubiquitous, competitive, energetic Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha who was brave and effective. But our Man of the Match, especially for this match, is George Gregan as he notched up his century with a strong, calm and decisive display.

Moment of the Match: There was that unusual moment of referral to the television match official after a long passage of play. There was Clyde Rathbone's burst downfield. There was Gaffie du Toit's pick-up and score. Our Moment of the Match is that athletic bit of commitment - and immense concentration - that spawned Lote Tuqiri's try.

Villain of the Match: There were silly moments but nothing too serious . One wishes that Marius Joubert and De Wet Barry would keep that tackles lower, that Chris Latham would not feign innocence when he is naughty, and that Justin Harrison would not try to be the clumsy Wyatt Earp of the rugby field.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: Tuqiri, Larkham, Latham, Rathbone
Conversions: Giteau 1/3, Burke 1/1
Penalty Goals: Giteau 2
Drop Goals:

For South Africa:
Tries: Van der Westhuyzen, de Villiers, du Toit
Conversions: Montgomery 0/3
Penalty Goals: Montgomery 3
Drop Goals:

Referee: Chris White (England)

Last edited by Scrumhalf; 2004-07-31 at 10:10.
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Old 2004-08-06, 19:21   Link #31
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Friday August 06 2004
All Blacks look for early Tri-Nations conclusion.

The All Blacks return to the scene of their thumping 50-21 victory last year with another Tri-Nations championship well within their sights - a bonus-point victory would leave them with an unassailable lead in the tournament.

Carlos Spencer: Will he stand tall or fall flat?

They have good reason to be confident after two home victories over Australia and South Africa in which they enjoyed over 70 percent of the possession in each game.

With the weather forecasts for Sydney showing calm clear skies, the visitors will have ample opportunity to convert this possession into points, and to show just how much Graham Henry's 'back-to-basics' policy has improved the All Blacks since the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

It has been business as usual in both camps in the build-up, both teams talking up their chances and publicly laying to rest any lingering unease caused by mistakes and/or problems in the first round of games.

All Black fly-half Carlos Spencer has defended his team's 'flat attack' strategy which has only produced two tries in two tests despite the wealth of possession, while Wallaby prop Al Baxter has lauded the Aussie tight five's improvement since the Wellington mud bath three weeks ago.

The coaches - as is their wont - have also been active in the press, agreeing with each other that this game will almost certainly decide the outcome of the tournament, despite both teams still facing the trip across to South Africa.

Tactical discussion in the NZ camp has centred on whether Marshall and Spencer can finally unleash the world's most potent backline despite the limitations of the flat attacking position. Both players, Marshall in particular, have laid the blame for the lack of incision in the last two games at the feet of the weather (against Australia), and an over-liberal interpretation of the offside line (against the Boks), and both have stated their belief in the new system working.

However, the inclusion of Andrew Mehrtens on the bench is a sign that Henry may lose patience with Spencer's inability to distribute effectively under pressure, should the beefy pack not dominate as completely as planned. Marshall will also be under more pressure than he was in Wellington now that Georges Gregan and Smith will be breathing down his neck, and Spencer does not cope well with untidy ball.

Graham Henry also hinted that Australia's choice of the scrapping abilities of Smith and Phil Waugh over the jumping talents of John Roe or Radike Samo would weaken the Wallaby line-out, which would further explain the inclusion of the three taller men in his starting team.

The Wallabies have not focused on any perceived weakness in the All Black team, instead focusing on their own shortcomings.

Prop Al Baxter spoke at length in the Australian press this week about the improvement shown against the Springboks, both personally and by the pack as a unit. But both Baxter and Eddie Jones are aware of the standard required to match the All Black pack.

Jones said that his tight five had experience a week of 'constant reminders' about their responsibilities and levels of concentration required.

However, he did not see the line-out as a weakness in his team's set-up, congratulating the efforts of Sharpe and Harrison against the South Africans despite their lack of a third jumper.

There has also been speculation on the possible use of the high punt to Lote Tuqiri in attacking situations, a move which was so effective last week, and an area where Joe Rokocoko is suspect in defence. Tuqiri may well be given license to roam both wings looking for ball.

The outcome of the match will hinge upon how much freedom the Australian scavengers are given to disrupt the New Zealand possession by referee Jonathan Kaplan. The tighter his perception of the offside line, the more room Spencer and Marshall will have to free up their backs in the benign conditions.

But if the Wallabies are given room to take a step up in defence, the contest will be much more evenly fought, and the possibility of a Wallaby victory cannot be ignored.

Either way, the conditions should ensure a belter of a game.

Players to watch:

For New Zealand: The return of Jono Gibbes will be a welcome fillip to the All Blacks, both for his added height in the line-out and the powerful runs going forward.

For Australia: Big Wallaby wing Lote Tuqiri had a terrific game against the Springboks, frequently coming off his wing to an inside channel and proving very difficult to stop. Watch for his runs and his appearances under the bomb.

Head to head: George Gregan (Australia) v Justin Marshall (New Zealand): Two of the world's best and most experienced scrum-halves lock horns again. Marshall is likely to enjoy most of the possession, so watch for Gregan sniping and trying to disrupt Marshall's ball distribution. If Marshall cannot get the ball to Spencer cleanly, the All Blacks will struggle. Watch too for Marshall making breaks of his own. Gregan meanwhile must ensure that whatever possession Australia get is speedily delivered to Larkham. Don't forget the earplugs either, as neither is known for silent contemplation of breakdown situations.

Recent results:

In 2004: New Zealand won 16-7 in Wellington
In 2003: Australia won 22-10 in Sydney (RWC)
In 2003: New Zealand won 21-17 in Auckland
In 2003: New Zealand won 50-21 in Sydney
In 2002: Australia won 16-14 in Sydney
In 2002: New Zealand won 12-6 in Christchurch
In 2001: Australia won 29-26 in Sydney
In 2001: Australia won 23-15 in Dunedin
In 2000: Australia won 24-23 in Wellington
In 2000: New Zealand won 39-35 in Sydney

Prediction: The dry conditions will ensure that there will not be a repeat of the handling errors of three weeks ago - and 80,000 baying Australians will make a difference. If Matt Giteau remembers to pack his kicking boots, Australia will win by a whisker.
Planet Rugby prediction: Australia by 3 points. prediction: New Zealand by 3 points.

The teams:

Australian Wallabies: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan (captain), 8 David Lyons, 7 Phil Waugh, 6 George Smith, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Bill Young.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Daniel Vickerman, 19 John Roe, 20 Chris Whitaker, 21 Matthew Burke, 22 Wendell Sailor.

New Zealand All Blacks: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga (captain), 12 Daniel Carter, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Carlos Spencer, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jono Gibbes, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Kees Meeuws.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Greg Somerville, 18 Simon Maling/Mose Tuiali'i, 19 Craig Newby, 20 Byron Kelleher, 21 Andrew Mehrtens, 22 Sam Tuitupou.

Date: Saturday, August 7
Kick-off: 20.00 local time (10.00 GMT)
Venue: Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Conditions: Clear/dry - max 16°C min, 6°C
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch Judges: Chris White (England), Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assessor: David Kerr (Scotland)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
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Old 2004-08-07, 11:25   Link #32
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Australia expose All Blacks in Sydney
Saturday August 07 2004
New Zealand go down to inspired Wallabies

A massive effort from Australia subjected New Zealand to their first defeat under Graham Henry - a nail-biting 23-18 loss in Sydney on Saturday. Penalty kicks were traded galore before Wallaby wing Lote Tuquiri snuck across for a crucial try at the Telstra Stadium, the scene of the All Blacks' loss to the Wallabies in RWC 2003.

NZ's Ali Williams and Australia's Justin Harrison face up.

The home side's victory in front of 82,000 tense spectators throws the Tri-Nations open again, with all three sides still in contention for the title.

It was a tough, uncompromising, closely contested match - but the Wallabies deserved their victory.

The match had been all Wallabies in the second half until they went into a 23-18 lead in the 68th minute. Then the All Blacks went into overdrive, but the Wallaby line did not yield.

But for most of the match the Wallabies looked stronger and more cohesive. The All Blacks appeared surprisingly ragged, almost seeming to hope for a gifted moment.

The Wallabies take four points from the match, the All Blacks a bonus point for being, thanks to penalty goals, within seven points of the winners - the two sides are now tied on nine points each, with the Boks on two but with a game in hand.

The Bledisloe Cup stays in New Zealand as the series ends 1-1, and that means the holders keep the big trophy.

That the All Blacks scored no tries and now have two from three Tri-Nations matches will invite further questions about their new flat alignment. Things looked a bit better when Andrew Mehrtens became the general for the last half hour of the match, which will also invite further questions.

The first half was a real battle. At first it seemed that New Zealand would win it as they looked sharper, more powerful and more effective and went into a 9-0 lead which became 12-3. But then the Wallabies, with much thanks to flanker George Smith, fought their way back to a 12-all half-time score.

It was a still night in Sydney, but also very cool - with breath on the air as Carlos Spencer barked the haka.

Australia ran the very first ball from the kick-off and Stirling Mortlock surged forward, but was tackled and the All Blacks won a turn-over. The Wallabies were off-side and Daniel Carter made it 3-0.

From the re-start it was the All Black turn to run the ball. Ali Williams broke and Carl Hayman took it on. It was much better than the Wallabies' first effort. It became a penalty against Justin Harrison but Crater's comfortable kick swung wide.

When Nathan Sharpe went off-side, Carter made it 6-0. When George Smith put his hands in a ruck, Carter made it 9-0. Indeed, at this point it looked like it would be a 'black' night in Sydney.

But then the Wallabies hit back - Lote Tuqiri surged at the line and the television match official was called upon, only to advise that the big wing was millimetres short.

The referee went back to a penalty earlier at the tackle. Matt Burke, on for bleeding Mortlock, kicked the goal, 9-3.

The Wallabies then drove the best maul of the half and the ball went sweetly right to Clyde Rathbone who chipped ahead but the ball dribbled into touch.

The All Blacks lost three of their seven line-outs in the half, and they lost this one five metres from their line and the Wallabies bashed. Latham was almost there and then Carlos Spencer went grossly off-side. The referee penalised him, but George Gregan - not for the first time - added his pennyworth and the referee reversed the penalty right under the Wallaby crossbar.

Instead of a Wallaby three-pointer, Carter got a fourth when Nathan Sharpe held on in a tackle. 12-3 after 27 minutes.

Then the Wallabies took over.

Tuqiri was marked by three each time he touched the ball, but he battled manfully and ended up scoring the only try of the match.

He started an attack that became a penalty for Matt Giteau when Keven Mealamu was off-side. Giteau made it 12-9 when Xavier Rush wwnt off-side. The next All Black off-side earned Ali Williams a yellow card.

That gave the Wallabies an attacking line-out. Attack they did, and then Kees Meeuws kicked the ball whilst lying on the ground at the tackle and Giteau made it 12-12.

Right from the start of the second half - and for the next half an hour - the Wallabies dominated.

The Wallabies won the kick-off and Latham cut sharply down the left. He was tackled five metres short.

The Wallabies came right back, and Rush played a man without the ball. Giteau kicked the penalty to make it 15-12. The Wallabies were in front for the first time. They were not headed again in the next 39 minutes.

Sam Tuitupou came on for Carter and did bits of bashing in tandem with Marty Holah. But Spencer missed a comfortable kick when the Wallaby front row was penalised. Then Mils Muliaina cut sharply between Phil Waugh and George Smith and when Smith stayed in the wrong place at a tackle Spencer levelled the scores at 15-15.

Then the Wallabies flung themselves on sharp attack. They went right and came back left and with three to two David Lyons hung on and was tackled short of the line. It seemed a chance blown. But the ball came back quickly with a pass to Tuqiri. The great wing juggled, hung on and flopped over for the try which made it 20-15. Burke missed the conversion.

At this stage Williams came back. In his absence the Wallabies scored eleven points to three.

Tuitupou, Umaga and Holah combined to go directly for the impregnable Wallaby line and when Phil Waugh hung onto Marshall's arm, Mehrtens, on for Spencer, goaled. 20-18.

The tension was enormous and the Wallabies rode it best, especially after Smith stole a wonky pass from Mehrtens whose arm had been snagged by Waugh. Latham slashed through off a switch and got to a metre or two. Umaga was penalised for coming in at the side and the Wallabies chose a five-metre line-out. The All Blacks stood firm. Then there was a line-out six metres from the All Black line, but Gregan knocked on the knock-down.

Still the Wallabies attacked and Jeremy Paul, on for Cannon, produced a miracle steal from a New Zealand line-out and the Wallabies were attacking again. Tuqiri was held up over the line near the posts but when Marshall went off-side Burke made it 23-18.

That was the end of the scoring - though the All Blacks had many attacking opportunities after Carl Hayman had charged down a Larkham clearance.

Latham saved in one attack when he pinched the ball from Mealamu as the hooker fell. The Wendell Sailor, on for Rathbone, saved by grabbing hold of a dropping pass.

The All Blacks were not finished as they won a Wallaby line-out and produced an overlap which Muliaina could not use.

The final hooter went and the All Blacks attacked and attacked, but when Sam Tuitupou knocked-on an awkward pass from Mose Tuiali'i, Gregan picked up the ball and booted it into touch to put the Wallabies - and the Springboks - back into Tri-Nations contention.

Man of the Match: Tana Umaga did so well in defence, and managed some sharp moments of his own when he had the ball. Marty Holah was all head-up and earnest endeavour, but really the award but go to a Wallaby. Brave Nathan Sharpe; clever Stephen Larkham with his judicious distribution; energetic, strong Chris Latham; never-defeated George Gregan; strong Lote Tuqiri - and our choice, George Smith, who tackled, ran and stole enough to break New Zealand hearts.

Moment of the Match: The big moments could be the negative ones - the scrap over the hoarding when Carlos Spencer wanted to take a quick throw-in and Stephen Larkham was silly. In fact the whole incident was silly - astonishingly silly for an international match. Ali Williams went off-side in a series of New Zealand back-foot offences - seven in all - and earned a yellow card, which produced ten productive minutes for the Wallabies. But the moment must be that Wallaby attack and the juggle, grab and flop for the only try of the match by Lote Tuqiri.

Villain of the Match: The Larkham-Spencer silliness over the hoarding was unedifying and undignified. George Gregan could have provided a telling moment when he mouthed off and elicited a reversed penalty for his trouble. Justin Harrison just carries on being silly. But really the award must go to Ali Williams - his yellow card laid the way for the Wallabies' match-winning points.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: Tuqiri
Conversions: Giteau 0/1
Penalty Goals: Burke 2, Giteau 4
Drop Goals:

For New Zealand:
Penalty Goals: Carter 4, Spencer, Mehrtens
Drop Goals:

Yellow card: Ali Williams (New Zealand, 38th minute)

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
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Old 2004-08-07, 14:25   Link #33
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Aug 7, 2004
By Dale Budge

The ghosts of Telstra Stadium came out to play once again as the Wallabies pipped the All Blacks 23-18 to keep their Tri-Nations campaign alive.

Lote Tuqiri scored the only try of the match as the Wallabies defence held the All Blacks tight, right until the final minute.

The chances were there for the All Blacks but a lack of penetration and the hungry Wallaby defence ensured the Tri-Nations trophy will will be decided when the series moves to South Africa for the final two matches.

The All Blacks found themselves in prime attacking position after a minute of play when the Wallabies went wide deep inside their own half. Marty Holah turned the Wallaby centre and the ball was won by the Blacks. They home side was then subsequently penalised for being offside and Daniel Carter opened scoring.

Both sides showed their hands early, opting to spin the ball wide at every opportunity.

As was the case in the first test of the Tri-Nations, the All Blacks held a clear ascendancy at scrum time, putting the Wallabies under all sorts of pressure, particularly with their own put in.

They also found the benefit of some useful gap running one or two passes away from the ruck, on a number occasions punching a hole through the Wallaby defence and going hard on attack with the momentum.

It was the All Blacks big men - Carl Hayman, Chris Jack and, to some extent, Tana Umaga - who were finding the holes, breaking half tackles as the Wallabies dived in cover defence.

As Carter knocked over two further penalties from handy range, Mortlock took a heavy head knock and was forced to leave the field, replaced by the retiring Matt Burke for his final test at his beloved Telstra Stadium.

Given what was riding on the outcome of this match, it was of little surprise to see a number of off-the-ball incidents. Carlos Spencer and his opposite number Stephen Larkham had a coming together over the sideline that eventually saw both players reprimanded after they ended up falling over the advertising hoardings.

In another incident Jack was heard loudly complaining to referee Jonathan Kaplan that he had been eye-gouged by Justin Harrison.

The Wallabies did look impressive when they were able to string a number of phases together and were able to get the ball wide with a little bit of momentum. They went agonisingly close to the line through Lote Tuqiri but thanks to Kees Meeuws' arm, the Australians were held out.

Burke brought the gap back to six points with a penalty from close range before he was denied for a second 'gimme' after his skipper had seen an offside penalty reversed. Spencer was clearly offside and Kaplan blew a penalty right in front but George Gregan gave the South African a mouthful, suggesting the All Black first-five should have been sin-binned.

Mortlock somehow managed to get into a condition that saw him return to the field and one of his bullocking runs earned his side another penalty for offside from in front.

This time Matt Giteau would take the attempt after Burke went back off.

The Brumbies second-five slotted it from in front to bring the Wallabies back to within six points.

Another penalty for offside saw the All Blacks given a warning by Kaplan for repeated infringing and Gregan, though conceding a penalty, may have won the battle after all.

Giteau reduced the margin to just three points as the clock clicked past the 36-minute mark.

Two minutes later the All Blacks were caught short down the blindside and once again were found offside. Kaplan finally had enough and sent Ali Williams to the sin-bin.

Yet another penalty on the stroke off halftime saw the Wallabies level at 12-12 and go to the sheds with a lot of momentum and the knowledge that they would face an All Black side for 14 men for the opening nine minutes of the second spell.

The opening stanza of the second spell went much the same as the last 15 minutes of the opening half. Australia attacking the All Blacks line, stretching them to the full extent and then catching them offside.

Giteau's penalty pushed the visitors ahead just as Carter limped form the field with an ankle problem, replaced by Sam Tuitupou.

An Australian scrum infringement gave Spencer his first attempt at goal from 42 metres out in front and the Auckland pivot dragged it to the left.

The whole scenario had a familiar look to it - dare we think back to late last year - but this time there of course was an insurance policy in the form of Andrew Mehrtens sitting on the bench.

Spencer calmly slotted his next attempt from a far more useful range and the All Blacks locked things up again.

But just as nerves ever so slightly, Australia turned the ball over and went on the attack. David Lyons bombed what should have been a certain try but was lucky enough to recycle the ball and Tuqiri scored in the corner.

Giteau missed the conversion as Williams returned to the fray.

The most significant replacement in recent times finally occurred in the 51st minute as All Black coach Graham Henry brought Mehrtens on for Spencer.

Debate as circled around the country over the respective merits of both first-fives during the career of both players.

Mehrtens would make his first big play when the Wallabies were caught offside in the 55th minute and the Crusader brought up 200 test points against the Australians.

Gregan decided to run the ball after getting a penalty inside the All Black 22. His call failed to work after the little number nine dropped the ball cold at the bottom of a line-out and the pressure was off the Kiwis for just a moment.

Henry was quite content to use his replacements as he brought Mose Tuiali'i on for Xavier Rush.

The Wallabies went extremely close on a number of occasions to getting the ball across the line as they continued to dominate the possession stakes but when the scrambling All Black defence held, Gregan opted for the posts as opposed to running the ball from the penalty.

Burke added the three points and the Wallabies went five points clear with 11 minutes left on the clock.

As Chris Latham cleared the ball from inside his own 22, Hayman charged the ball down and Tuqiri was driven backwards. From the scrum, the All Blacks failed to make any real progress and the opportunity was lost.

It wasn't the only chance that the All Blacks had in the dying stages but unlike two weeks ago in Christchurch, they were unable to produce the Houdini act and the Wallabies took the points.

All Blacks 18: Pens: Daniel Carter (4), Carlos Spencer, Andrew Mehrtens.
Wallabies 23: Tries: Lote Tuqiri. Pens: Matt Giteau (4), Matthew Burke (2).
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Old 2004-08-14, 03:58   Link #34
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Go The All Blacks!!!!
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Old 2004-08-22, 05:11   Link #35
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South Africa clinch Tri-Nations title
Saturday August 21 2004
Springboks see off the Wallabies in Durban thriller

South Africa clinched the Tri-Nations title with a thrilling 23-19 victory over Australia in Durban on Saturday. All three teams ended the series with two wins and two losses apiece, but the Boks claim the crown - for only the second time - thanks to their haul of bonus points.

Victorious: South Afrika

Before the Tri-Nations, the wise men said that it was going to be close this year - and how right they were.

Indeed, it was decided only in the last minute of the last match as Australia fought back from 23-7 down to get to 23-19 with the ball in their possession and the wind in their sails.

And then George Smith, such an effective player, kicked the ball into touch after the final hooter had sounded - and thus the flanker's acute anguish gave way to ecstasy for the Springboks, the whole Durban crowd and all South Africa.

All Australian hearts dropped, but their players rallied to shake hands and congratulate their victors.

Leading the congratulations was Wallaby captain George Gregan, playing his 102nd match for Australia, and thus passing David Campese record for Wallaby caps.

South Africa, with a bit of a breeze, had the better of the first half but the Wallabies got the score that counted.

After a couple of errors which delighted the Durban crowd, SA-born Wallaby Clyde Rathbone came off the right wing to thread a deft right-footed grubber to his left.

Lote Tuqiri with balanced patience, waited, picked up the bouncing ball, stepped inside Breyton Paulse and then Schalk Burger to score near the sticks. Matt Giteau converted to make the score 7-0 to Australia after 34 minutes of play.

In this half the Springboks had the better of the line-outs, the Wallabies the better of the scrums in which they contrived to get two penalties when there were scrums five metres from their line.

That there were two scrums in that position was a sign of Springbok pressure, but that pressure was nullified as much by their bungling hands as by the Wallaby defence.

The best bit of running in the half, apart from the try, came from Wallaby fullback Chris Latham, first off a scrum and then when he marked a high kick by Jaco van der Westhuyzen.

South Africa's only score came when Bill Young was penalised at a scrum. Montgomery's kick from in front swerved in the breeze and went over. And the half-time whistle went with the scores poised at 7-3 in favour of the visitors.

In the first half Percy Montgomery and Matt Giteau each missed a penalty. Montgomery missed another early in the second half, but it was to be to the Boks' advantage.

Breyton Paulse collected the ensuing Australian drop-out and hoisted a high left-footed kick. He then leapt high above Latham to knock the ball back to Victor Matfield who tucked it under his arm and ran some 30 metres past George Gregan to score. Montgomery converted to give South Africa a 10-7 lead after only three minutes of the second period.

Back again came the Springboks - attacking right and left. Big No.8 Joe van Niekerk was stopped four metres from the line. Os du Randt burrowed over the line but the television match official recommended that he be penalised for crawling/holding on.

But this didn't deter the Boks. Again they attacked and sucked the Wallabies defenders into a pile. Victor Matfield then fired a long pass to Van Niekerk on the left wing who slid over for a try. Montgomery converted and the Springboks led 17-7 after 12 minutes of the half.

Four minutes later, with the Wallabies reeling under the pressure, Montgomery kicked a penalty when Lyons was penalised at the base of a scrum - and six minutes later he added another when Lyons was penalised once again. It was then 23-7 with 18 minutes to play.

But the Wallabies, as is their wont, were not going to surrender. They were not done - not by a long chalk.

Giteau made an excellent break, not for the only time in this period, and Paulse was caught out and the Wallabies had a five-metre scrum.

Burger was then penalised, and the Wallabies had another five-metre scrum - but still the Springboks held firm.

Then came potential disaster for the home side. Montgomery hoisted an up-and-under. Latham jumped for it. Montgomery took out his legs and earned a penalty and a yellow card with 12 minutes left.

Now it was all Wallaby attack, all Springbok defence.

The attack bore fruit when Larkham fired a brilliant pass to Stirling Mortlock who had a simple run for the line. Giteau converted. 23-14 with nine minutes left.

From the kick-off replacement No.8 John Roe charged a long way up-field and the Wallabies were back attacking. Paulse was perhaps unfortunate to be penalised at a tackle - when he was the tackler - and earned a second yellow card for the Springboks just as Montgomery returned to the fray.

That penalty became a five-metre line-out. The Wallabies mauled and Smith was the man in the bundle who went over for the try - 23-19.

Matt Burke, on for Mortlock, then missed the vital conversion, leaving the Wallabies needing a try with only seconds left.

Van der Westhuyzen kicked off deep and the Wallabies rushed to attack. The Springboks rushed to defend. Replacement hooker Jeremy Paul surged forward, then George Smith took it on - but only to put the ball into touch. Smith punched the floor as referee Paddy O'Brien brought the whistle to his lips - he knew it was all over.

Then came the chasm between the joy of victory and the sour taste of defeat.

It was the first time the Springboks have won the Tri-Nations since 1998. Then they did it with four wins out of four.

Man of the match: George Smith was marvellous for the Wallabies, as was Lote Tuqiri - and so was John Roe with bursting runs for his abbreviated stay on the field. But the man who nearly made the difference was Matt Giteau with his telling breaks. But the man-of-the-match has to be a Springbok. Joe van Niekerk had a good second half. Fourie du Preez showed the value of having a scrum-half who plays scrum-half when he came on for the second half. Breyton Paulse had some magic moments. Bakkies Botha was all things strong and determined. Schalk Burger was a bundle of effective energy and Os du Randt made a real difference in the scrums in the second half, but the man-of-the-match was without doubt was Bok lock Victor Matfield, who proved the value of dropping a great player! Back he came and how he played! Where the Wallabies had dominated the Springbok line-out in Perth, this time the Springboks won theirs and the Wallabies lost five. Matfield was also - with Burger - the most effective tackler in the Springbok side. He scored that telling try and he sent the long pass to Van Niekerk for the Springboks' second try.

Moment of the Match: Breyton Paulse's leap and palm back, Victor Matfield's catch and wing-like run for the try. The second moment for home fans was probably the sad moment when George Smith kicked the ball into touch to produce the final whistle and a famous Springbok victory.

Villain of the Match: South Africa fullback Percy Montgomery for that air tackle that earned a yellow card at such a crucial time in the match.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Matfield, Van Niekerk
Conversions: Montgomery 2/2
Penalty Goals: Montgomery 3
Drop Goals:

For Australia:
Tries: Tuqiri, Mortlock, Smith
Conversions: Giteau 2/3
Penalty Goals:
Drop Goals:

The teams:

South African Springboks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean de Villiers, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Bolla Conradie (Fourie du Preez, 40), 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 AJ Venter (Gerrie Britz, 64), 6 Schalk Burger (Jacques Cronjé, 36-40, 79), 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews (CJ van der Linde, 67), 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt (Hanyani Shimange, 79).
Unused replacements: 21 Gaffie du Toit, 22 Brent Russell.

Australian Wallabies: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Clyde Rathbone (Wendell Sailor, 61), 13 Stirling Mortlock (Matthew Burke, 75), 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Stephen Larkham, 9 George Gregan (captain), 8 David Lyons (John Roe, 69), 7 Phil Waugh, 6 George Smith (John Roe 26-37), 5 Nathan Sharpe (Daniel Vickerman, 55), 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Brendan Cannon (Jeremy Paul, 61), 1 Bill Young (Matt Dunning, 66).
Unused replacements: 20 Chris Whitaker.

Yellow cards: Montgomery (South Africa, 70), Paulse (South Africa, 79).
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Old 2004-09-12, 05:46   Link #36
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Thumbs up Rugby League

The National Rugby League (NRL) finals series has kicked off this weekend with a bang!

Rugby League is a different derived sport from the original sport of Rugby the world plays (or known as Rugby Union - which is the sport I play). It's a must faster, skillful, & a much more physical brand of Rugby - which makes the sport such an excitement to watch. Less kicking than Rugby Union; more running, tackling, & neck-breaking bash 'n' barge!
Rugby League lacks international spotlight (compared to Rugby Union), but the game is very popular in New South Wales (Australia), New Zealand, & parts of northern England. Rugby League talents embark in a professional competition known as the NRL; based in Sydney, Australia.

For any enthusiasts out there wanting to know more about this great sport of Rugby League; you can watch ALL games (full video replays) of the year provided FREE by:

Click on the picture above to enter the Telstra Rugby League Video Gallery!

For more information about Rugby League; it's rules, it's history, & it's greatest achievements:

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Old 2004-09-12, 06:58   Link #37
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Originally Posted by LoveOfAnime
I watched my first Rugby game while in New Zealand on July 17th 2004. It was the All BLACKS vs. THE WALLABIES. What a thrill!!!!!!!! Sounds like you people here are not big ALL BLACK Fans. As I was introduced to it by New Zealanders, I became an OFFICIAL ALL BLACK fan. So here is my opinion........the ALL BLACKS ROCK!!!!! Just hope you can all handle having me support them
From here on in, I love you more than I did before!! I am a New Zealander and I have to agree with you... ALL BLACKS KICK A$$!!!
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Old 2004-09-15, 13:08   Link #38
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by Serendipity
From here on in, I love you more than I did before!! I am a New Zealander and I have to agree with you... ALL BLACKS KICK A$$!!!

Thank You, I am glad to hear there is a New Zealander here. My friends live on the North Island at the base of Mt Egemont(sp)? Where are you? I saw some of the North Island in july and left a part of my heart there. Glad there is another All Blacks fan too.........
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Old 2004-10-03, 22:43   Link #39
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Thumbs up Bulldogs win the National Rugby League Premiership of 2004

Bulldogs take their title
By James Hooper
October 4, 2004

Bulldogs 16 Roosters 13
IT went down to the final 13 seconds, until a frantic Michael Crocker dropped the ball, and only then had the Bulldogs won the grand final they have been chasing for the past three seasons.

Anthony Topou in action: Telstra Premiership Grand Final, Sydney Roosters v Bulldogs, Sunday 3 October 2004. Telstra Stadium.

Big Willie Mason was named the Clive Churchill Medallist for best player in the grand final and carried the Bulldogs in the absence of captain Steve Price.

Brent Sherwin provided some magical touches, and Sonny Bill Williams added the impact in a frenetic football match.

An ecstatic Mason said after the hooter: "It's been an unreal year for the Bulldogs after all we've been through.

"It was hell at the start of the year but this is unreal. I love youse (sic) all."

Willie Mason receives the Clive Chruchill medal for the player of the match: Telstra Premiership Grand Final, Sydney Roosters v Bulldogs, Sunday 3 October 2004. Telstra Stadium.

There was no fairytale finish for retiring Roosters legend Brad Fittler as the Bulldogs cleansed a chaotic start to season 2004 with the sweetest finish of all, hoisting the Telstra Cup.

A shattered Fittler said: "Congratulations to the Bulldogs. They went through a lot this year. It's disappointing but to Marie and Demi (partner and daughter), you're me future."

The final 15 minutes were absolutely frantic with mistakes aplenty but it all made for spectacular theatre as the Bulldogs clung to a 16-13 lead.

In the space of three minutes, Chris Walker went from scoring the potential match-winning try to producing one of the great grand final blunders.

Anthony Minichiello crosses the line: Telstra Premiership Grand Final, Sydney Roosters v Bulldogs, Sunday 3 October 2004. Telstra Stadium.

The Roosters winger was stopped just one metre short of the line with the score at 16-13 to the Bulldogs in what would have been the game-breaking play.

Moments later he dropped a Brent Sherwin long kick to hand the Bulldogs possession attacking the Roosters line - but the Roosters forced a tight-head scrum.

Acting Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan said: "This is the best thing ever. I can't believe it."

As Price joined his teammates on the field at full time: "This will be the sweetest lap of honour I've ever had the opportunity to do."

Sheets of rain pelted Telstra Stadium for an hour up until kick-off, meaning conditions were greasy early.

It took the master touch of retiring legend Fittler to break open a frantic game in the 14th minute, the Roosters captain shaping to kick right but then sending a spectacular left-foot banana kick into the waiting arms of a flying Walker.

Walker caught the ball to touch down for the opening try of the match and when Craig Fitzgibbon converted the Roosters led 6-0.

Two minutes later, Bulldogs winger Matt Utai appeared to be under pressure to retrieve the ball and make it out of his own in-goal but the chunky winger showed good composure to evade the Roosters defence before embarking on a 55-metre sideline charge.

A mistake from Roosters forward Crocker bringing the ball out of his own territory was the invitation the Bulldogs needed to score their first try, captain Andrew Ryan throwing a cutout pass for winger Utai to burrow over.

El Masri levelled the score at 6-6 with a penalty goal shortly after before Roosters halfback Brett Finch landed a field goal for a 7-6 lead six minutes from halftime.

From the second play after the kickoff, rookie Roosters forward Anthony Tupou burst through a Corey Hughes tackle as Tony Grimaldi slipped over, Tupou making a 35m charge before sending Anthony Minichiello over for a 13-6 lead.

Tries: M Utai 2, H El Masri
Goals: H El Masri 2
Field Goals:

Tries: C Walker, A Minichiello
Goals: C Fitzgibbon 2
Field Goals: B Finch

Referee: T Mander.
Crowd: 82,127 at Telstra Stadium - Sydney, Australia.

AnimeSuki congratulates the Bulldogs RLFC. 2004 Telstra National Rugby League Premiers!
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Old 2004-10-16, 03:07   Link #40
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Exclamation Rugby League Tri-Nations First Test: NZ v AUS

16 - 16

Date: Saturday, 16 October 2004
Time: 5:00PM (2:00PM AEST)
Venue: North Harbour Stadium - Auckland, New Zealand.

Summary of scorers:

Tries: Meli, V. Anderson, L. Anderson
Goals: Webb 2/3
Field Goals:

Tries: Rooney 2, Minichiello
Goals: Lockyer 2/3
Field Goals:

Match report:

New Zealand and Australia today played out a gripping 16-all draw in the opening Tri-Nations rugby league Test at North Harbour Stadium.

In the final 12 minutes, four field goal attempts were missed - two from Craig Gower and the others from Darren Lockyer and Kiwi halfback Thomas Leuluai.

Australian captain Lockyer put centre Shaun Berrigan into a gap in the dying seconds but English referee Russell Smith ruled the pass forward.

The tourists were in the box seat to win thanks to superb kicking games from halves Gower and Lockyer, who frequently sent the ball inside the shortened six metre in-goal areas.

For Australia, Nathan Hindmarsh and Jason Ryles were the best forwards while winger Luke Rooney bagged two tries in his Test debut.

New Zealand had plenty of big hitters, none better than interchange forward David Kidwell, who smashed Gower and Rooney during the thrilling encounter.

Teenage sensation Sonny Bill Williams lived up to his growing reputation as one of the most exciting players in the code with another barnstorming display. His sterling efforts won him the man-of-the-match award.

The home side opened its account in the sixth minute through five-eighth Vinnie Anderson who scored after the ball was shifted to the right corner.

Brent Webb converted for a 6-0 scoreline but it only took seven minutes for the Australians to hit back.

Rooney steamed onto an inside ball from Willie Tonga and did well to brush off tacklers en route to a 42m run to the line.

The New Zealanders were constantly being caught short in defence out wide and Kangaroos fullback Anthony Minichiello was the first to benefit, scoring an 18th minute try which Lockyer converted to put the visitors up 12-6.

Francis Meli drifted off his wing and he paid the price.

Rooney was in again soon after, this time just inside the left corner post after the ball was sent out wide by the Kangaroos.

It looked like Australia would go into the halftime break with a handy 16-6 lead but hooker Louis Anderson scored a 36th minute try in his debut for the Kiwis.

The 19-year-old took advantage of a strong Nathan Cayless charge, burrowing over the line from dummy half.

Webb added the extra to bring his underdog team back into the contest as the Kiwis trailed by four at halftime.

It took until the 55th minute for New Zealand to level following some sloppy play from the Roos.

Utility Craig Wing threw a shocking pass on the fifth tackle and Lockyer was forced to clean up the crumbs.

But the Australian skipper could not get a kick away and was caught on the last.

From the ensuing set Meli made amends for his earlier mistakes in defence, forcing his way over the line from dummy half despite the attentions of Wing, Rooney and Willie Tonga to level the game at 16-all.
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