2022 Australia vs New Zealand All Blacks - Bledisloe Cup, Game 1

Bledisloe Cup Game 1 Recap: All Blacks Escape With Controversial Win

Bledisloe Cup Game 1 Recap: All Blacks Escape With Controversial Win

As with many New Zealand-Australia clashes, the two rivals played a game for the ages Thursday when they collided in The Rugby Championship.

Sep 15, 2022 by Briar Napier
Bledisloe Cup Game 1 Recap: All Blacks Escape With Controversial Win

As with many New Zealand-Australia clashes, the two rivals played a game for the ages Thursday when they collided in The Rugby Championship.

Perhaps for some of the wrong reasons.

The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup and kept a stranglehold of first place in the Rugby Championship standings in a 37-35 thriller at Marvel Stadium, but the triumph did not come without some hijinks.

Australia nearly pulled off a thrilling second-half comeback, but due to a refereeing decision that is the talk of the rugby world at the moment, New Zealand was given a late chance to capitalize - and did. 

And with just one match left to play (in New Zealand) for each team in The Rugby Championship, the late turn of events could prove to be a crucial point in New Zealand's hope for even more silverware.

Here's a look at all that went down during a wild night in Melbourne. All of the action from The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup are being streamed live on FloRugby.

New Zealand Wins After Siren

Largely helped by an officiating call that likely will be talked about in the international rugby world for a long time (more on that below), New Zealand managed to narrowly snatch victory from at Marvel Stadium and gain a crucial five-point lead (with a game in hand over South Africa and Argentina) at the top of The Rugby Championship table with just one round left. 

The All Blacks ripped out to a 10-point lead in the first 11 minutes through a Samisoni Taukei'aho try and subsequent conversion, plus penalty kicks from star fly-half Richie Mo'unga. 

The response try from the Wallabies' No. 8, Rob Valetini, and a conversion plus a penalty from fly-half Bernard Foley - playing in his first senior international test in three years following many Aussie injuries at his position - knotted up the score at 10-10 at the half. 

Nonetheless, the Wallabies had both Tom Wright and Darcy Swain in the sin bin for late first-half yellow cards to start the second half, and New Zealand took advantage, as Taukei'aho scored his second try minutes after the intermission. 

Tries from Mo'unga and Will Jordan followed, giving the All Blacks a commanding 31-13 advantage with 20 minutes remaining, but Australia put up a stormer of a final quarter to set itself up for what it hoped to be a famous win. 

Lock Jed Kellaway crossed over twice in six minutes to cut the deficit to 31-27, and though Mo'unga answered in the 71st minute with a penalty, Aussie flanker Pete Samu's try helped tie it at 34 after the conversion, while sub Nic White's penalty in the 78th minute gave the Wallabies a 37-34 lead, seemingly completing the stunning comeback. 

With seconds on the clock remaining, New Zealand got a late break - a scrum awarded deep in Australia's half under controversial circumstances - and the All Blacks managed to snag the last-gasp win, with Jordie Barrett crossing over for a try after the siren to stun Australia, retain the Bledisloe Cup and give them crucial footing in the Rugby Championship as the final matchweek of this year's competition looms.

A Contentious Call

In a rivalry as heated as the Bledisloe Cup and in circumstances as tense as the late rounds of The Rugby Championship, French referee Mathieu Raynal may forever be linked with his decision to award New Zealand a very, very late scrum, mere meters from Australia's try line with seconds to play.

It gave the All Blacks the breathing room they needed to pull off a shocking victory in Melbourne. 

After White converted his long-range penalty to give the Wallabies their first lead of the test, Australia, holding on for dear life as New Zealand threw everything at it in what appeared to be a final attack, won a penalty in front of its own posts with seconds remaining in normal time through Lalakai Foketi. 

All that was left for the Wallabies to do was kick the ball into touch and far away from any danger to almost certainly secure the victory and give themselves a monstrous home win against a hated rival, but as Foley was preparing to boot the ball away to seal the result, Raynal blew the play dead and cited Foley for time wasting, giving New Zealand a scrum right in front of the Australian try line. 

The Wallabies protested to no avail, and the All Blacks got a massive gift essentially handed to them on a silver platter. 

About a minute after play restarted, Barrett found space on the right side and crossed over after the 80-minute mark to stun the Marvel Stadium crowd and make spectators erupt into a chorus of boos toward Raynal.

The call and its deservedness, as Foley was mid-kicking motion when Raynal blew his whistle, likely will be discussed and debated for a long time, especially if New Zealand uses the momentum from the win to emerge with another Rugby Championship win.

What's Next?

Considering that all four nations in The Rugby Championship table were on near-equal footing heading into Round 5 - New Zealand held a one-point advantage at the top, with Australia, South Africa and Argentina all set behind it at nine points. 

Any win across the board was going to be a massive result in the long run. 

Both the All Blacks and the Wallabies needed to pick up full points in their first meeting, but as New Zealand was able to retain both its Bledisloe Cup hold (as it's done every year since 2003) and its top spot in the competition table on the road in the Land Down Under, it sets up a cozier scenario for the All Blacks.

A win Sept. 24 in Auckland should seal the deal for both trophies, assuming South Africa or Argentina doesn't acquire multiple bonus points. 

It also means that embattled coach Ian Foster, who has had a terrible past 10 months as All Blacks boss, with six defeats suffered since November, still can claim to have won some silverware after one of the worst years in New Zealand's rugby history and help cool down his hot seat a bit in the process. 

Australia, meanwhile, will fall to its lowest-ever position of ninth in the World Rugby Rankings next week following its defeat, a huge drop for the two-time world champions that marks a low point in what has essentially been a steady decline since its runner-up finish in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. 

To make matters worse for the Wallabies, they haven't won at Eden Park - a fortress of New Zealand rugby. The All Blacks hold a 47-match unbeaten streak at the ground since 1994. 

Australia will have to defy the odds at the venue later this month in order to salvage its Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship hopes.