HONG KONG, October 30- Australia won a nailbiting final Bledisloe Cup Test in Hong Kong 26-24 with the last kick of the match Saturday to end a 10-game losing streak against the All Blacks.The Wallabies were trailing until the final seconds and facing a 4-0 series whitewash until man-of-the-moment James O’Connor converted his own injury-time try to secure the match for the Wallabies.
"I’ve been through that situation many times and I just went through my motions, my little triggers that I have been working on," a jubilant O’Connor said after the final whistle. "It was just like every other kick."
Tries by Quade Cooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper had put Australia in front but Jimmy Cowan and Corey Jane went over for the All Blacks to hand them a 17-12 lead at the break which was extended by Ma’a Nonu.
But a try by Wallaby winger Drew Mitchell kept Australia in touch before O’Connor’s heroics had the Australian fans roaring in delight.
"The way we went about it was the big thing, particularly James scoring the last try and scoring the last goal, which made us all a lot happier than the alternative," Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom said.
A win in only the third trans-Tasman Test on neutral soil marks a huge boost for Australia as both sides embark on end-of-season European tours.
"The flight is a lot more pleasurable with a win than a loss," said Aussie coach Robbie Deans.
"I guess what we got was a good response in the last 20 (minutes) which is an area we have been battling with. That was great. The boys preservered though there were occasions when they could have dropped their heads."
New Zealand, who had clinched the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for the eighth straight year after winning in Christchurch in August, had won their past 10 encounters with Australia, including three victories in this year’s Tri Nations.
Much had been made of the match-up between fly-halves Dan Carter, for the All Blacks, and Wallabies young pretender Qaude Cooper, as well as the back row contest between Kiwi Richie McCaw and David Pocock.
But it was in the front five that the early battles were won and lost, with the Wallabies moving quickly through the gears to open the try-scoring before the All Blacks had managed to leave their half when Cooper carried over from 18 yards.
The Wallabies ratcheted up the pressure with a series of punts down the All Blacks’ throats before Adam Ashley-Cooper ghosted past two tackles for a superb 40-yard solo try under the posts, converted by centre Matt Giteau for a 10-0 lead.
But it was an all-too-familiar story as the All Blacks responded on the half hour with a try between the sticks from scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan and another straight from the kick off by winger Cory Jane, both converted cooly by Carter, who added a penalty on halftime.
The All Blacks were first to score in the second half after absorbing some initial pressure from the Wallabies, with centre Ma’a Nonu crossing over after quick ball from the breakdown for an easy run-in converted by the peerless Carter.
But Australia managed for the first time in the series to keep the All Blacks under pressure for the full 80 minutes with Mitchell’s lightning turn of pace and O’Connor’s heroics earning a standing ovation on the final whistle.
After the game a disappointed All Blacks coach Graham Henry praised his opponents.
"The Wallabies played particularly well and they scored to win the game. They kept the ball and we gave away a few penalties which made it difficult for us," he said.
"The Australians played some really good football and it was a great spectacle I would imagine."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw added: "I guess sometimes it comes down to one turnover… and they got the vital try at the end which was a little disappointing."