All Blacks suffer huge defeat at hands of Wallabies

Australia celebrate a try during their thumping win over the All Blacks in Perth. Photo: Getty...
Australia celebrate a try during their thumping win over the All Blacks in Perth. Photo: Getty Images
The Wallabies have kept their Bledisloe Cup dream alive with a victory that will live long in the memory for probably the wrong reasons; not an historic first test between the two nations in Perth in a beautiful new stadium but for a controversial red card for All Black lock Scott Barrett.

The decisive moment in front of a crowd of more than 61,000, a record for Optus Stadium, was delivered in the 40th minute by French referee Jérôme Garcès, an official who has plenty of form in this area, for it was he who dismissed Sonny Bill Williams during the second test against the British & Irish Lions in Wellington two years ago.

Like Barrett, who saw his return from a broken hand finish in extreme disappointment, Williams was also sent off for a shoulder charge, but the incidents were night and day apart. In that case, Williams drove his shoulder into the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson, clearly a dangerous act.

This one was far more innocuous. Barrett was off balance and connected only a glancing blow on Hooper's head area – it was difficult to tell where exactly - as the Wallabies skipper drove low from an attacking ruck. But unfortunately for Barrett and the All Blacks the result was the same; a man down, the odds all against them and a controversial defeat after positive beginnings.

Scott Barrett is controversially sent off late in the first half for a dangerous tackle. Photo:...
Scott Barrett is controversially sent off late in the first half for a dangerous tackle. Photo: Getty Images
Those with long memories will also recall how Garcès played a big part in the third Lions test at Eden Park when, as a touch judge, he helped Romain Poite reach his inexplicable decision to change an attacking penalty in the final minutes to a scrum, thereby robbing the All Blacks of a chance to kick the goal which would have won them the series.

A word of warning for New Zealand supporters: Garcès will be in charge for the All Blacks' first World Cup match against South Africa.

Barrett becomes the fourth All Black to be red carded in a test, his removal forcing Kieran Read to pack down alongside Sam Whitelock in the second row, a change which robbed the All Blacks of a new loose trio which was becoming increasingly influential.

Already down 13-12 thanks to a long-range Reece Hodge try and a couple of Christian Lealiifano penalties, the extra penalty allowed the Wallabies to take a handy lead to the break and it was all theirs to lose after blindside flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was over six minutes after the re-start.

The All Blacks needed their attack to fire quickly in order to respond. They had shown ambition and vision in combining to put Anton Lienert-Brown and Rieko Ioane over in the first quarter, but instead it was Samu Karevi who was away, the big second-five getting past Aaron Smith and then Beauden Barrett to put Nic White over; a crushing blow for a team which looked rattled and out of sorts.

Beauden Barrett struggles through the tackle of Michael Hooper. Photo: Getty Images
Beauden Barrett struggles through the tackle of Michael Hooper. Photo: Getty Images
And yet. Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett combined for a brilliant try for the latter, the fullback jinking and bursting through to put the ball down on the line for a converted try which narrowed the score to 26-19 and gave their team belief at least with more than a quarter of the game remaining.

Marika Koroibete's close-range try under the posts was the final nail. Ngani Laumape got one back for the visitors. Reece Hodge's second and Kurtley Beale's late one just added insult to injury.

There was enough to like about the Ardie Savea/Sam Cane double act, but Jack Goodhue's injury midway through the first half forced a backline compromise and then Barrett's red card changed the match completely.

On to Eden Park, then. Bledisloe Cup alive, the Wallabies are coming to make history and reclaim the trophy they last held in 2002. What chance of more controversy?

Wallabies 47 (Reece Hodge 2, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Marika Koroibete, Kurtley Beale tries; Christian Lealiifano 3 pens, 2 cons, Matt To'omua 2 cons)
All Blacks 26 (Anton Lienert-Brown, Reiko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Ngani Laumape tries; Richie Mo'unga 3 cons)
Halftime: 16-12

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