SYDNEY • Australia gave themselves a huge boost ahead of the Rugby World Cup when they stunned a New Zealand side, reduced to 14 men for half the match, 47-26 in a thrilling Rugby Championship test in Perth yesterday.
Lock Scott Barrett's dismissal for a dangerous tackle just before halftime undoubtedly had a big impact on the contest, but the Wallabies were well worth their first win over the world champions since 2017.
Reece Hodge scored two of their six tries as Australia ran up their highest points tally in 165 tests against the All Blacks.
The Wallabies have endured four largely miserable seasons since they lost to the All Blacks in the last World Cup final in 2015.
But they have a chance to clinch the Bledisloe Cup series on Saturday at Auckland's Eden Park - a venue they have not won at since 1986. New Zealand have held the trophy since 2002.
"That's a nice little hit of confidence and momentum there for us tonight," said Australia captain Michael Hooper. "We were controlling them quite well when they had 15 men, so when they went down to 14, we didn't need to change much."
Lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, scrumhalf Nic White, winger Marika Koroibete and fullback Kurtley Beale also crossed for the Wallabies in front of a packed house of 61,241 at Perth Stadium.
The All Blacks had tries from backs Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett and Ngani Laumape. But they will not be happy with a defeat on the back of a draw against the Springboks.
To compound matters, the All Blacks will lose their No. 1 ranking for the first time in 10 years if Wales avoid defeat against England today at Twickenham.
"They were very good tonight," said New Zealand skipper Kieran Read. "The first half was tit-for-tat and we just couldn't get hold of the ball and then they just hit us after half-time and that just really gave them confidence.
"We have to be better than that."
Barrett was only the fourth All Black to be sent off in a test. French referee Jerome Garces has been responsible for half of those dismissals, having also shown a red card to Sonny Bill Williams for a shoulder charge during the second British and Irish Lions test in 2017.
The penalty gave Australia a 16-12 lead at half-time. Nine minutes into the second half, the shell-shocked All Blacks were down 26-12.
REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS