BRISBANE (Reuters) - New Zealand captain Kieran Read said the All Blacks were not going to win every close match with a late try and paid tribute to Australia for finishing the job in a 23-18 victory over the world champions on Saturday.
Needing a converted try for a victory in the last two minutes of the match, New Zealand pounded away at the Australian defensive line but just came up short as their hosts tackled themselves into the ground.
For many Australian fans, it would have been a nervous couple of minutes as the All Blacks have so often rescued victories from the jaws of defeat, most recently in Dunedin just a few weeks ago.
”Hey look, that’s not going to happen every time, that’s the thing, you just don’t want to put yourself in that position,“ said Read. ”But I think we just have to give that to the Wallabies, they played really well tonight. Fought really hard, a lot of teams wouldn’t potentially have finished the job so all credit to them.
“I guess we’ll look back on that game, the Wallabies took a couple of chances more than us and we probably just didn’t quite take it.”
The loss was the first to the Wallabies in eight matches going back to 2015 and a third in a year for the All Blacks, who were defeated by Ireland in Boston and lost one test to the British and Irish Lions.
They still racked up six wins out of six for the second year in a row to run away with the Rugby Championship and retained the Bledisloe Cup for the 15th straight year after wins over the Wallabies in Sydney and Dunedin.
On Saturday, they were without influential flyhalf Beauden Barrett and one of his predecessors as World Player of the Year, lock Brodie Retallick.
While that tested the depth of Steve Hansen’s squad, it also enabled less experienced players to get a taste of a full-blooded test match.
”It’s not all doom and gloom for us,“ Read added. ”The boys that have come in in the championship and again tonight have really stepped up, we saw it again tonight off the bench.
“The signs are promising but we’ll have a few days off and then look forward to a big tour of Europe.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Ed Osmond