A week after losing by a record margin to concede the Bledisloe Cup, Australia rebounded with a 24-22 win over New Zealand on Saturday to give Dave Rennie his first win as Wallabies head coach.
It was described by some as a dead-rubber match, but there's no such thing when it comes to a trans-Tasman contest.
A brutal first half contained two early tries and two red cards for dangerous tackles, ending with the score locked at 8-8 and New Zealand holding a one-man advantage with 14 against Australia's 13. The second half featured three tries — including one for each team in the last five minutes — and ended with 14 Wallabies on the field against 13 All Blacks.
The New Zealanders clinched the Bledisloe Cup for the 18th consecutive season last weekend with a thumping 43-5 win in Sydney, giving them two big wins over the Wallabies after the series-opening 16-16 draw in Wellington. They made wholesale changes for the fourth Bledisloe test, which also doubled as the second in a Tri-Nations series that also involves Argentina.
The Wallabies were leading 8-5 in the 23rd when New Zealand prop Ofa Tuungafasi was red carded after a review for a high tackle on Wright, who was making an angled run off the wing.
It got worse for the Australians when rookie flanker Lachie Swinton was red carded in the 35th for a dangerous, no-arms hit on Sam Whitelock and then winger Marika Koroibete was yellow carded for a ruck infringement just before halftime.
Sky Sport commentator Tony Johnson told Martin Devlin that referee Nick Berry showed guts by making the calls, as there should have been two red cards in last week's games.
"What is lacking is consistency. I think they are reffing far too much on outcome."
Johnson says Swinton's red card was "open and shut" and there was malicious intent, but he says that intent never seems to factor in.