'Brain explosions' cost Australia the game and a player

Rugby Union New Zealand 28 Australia 16

Front rowers have never been renowned for their verbal skills but the Australian captain, Phil Kearns, came up with a perfect expression to explain the Wallabies' defeat in the first Bledisloe Cup Test on Saturday.

"I had a brain explosion," he said, in his attempts to explain why, with New Zealand ahead 18-16 and five minutes left to play he opted to kick for touch rather than attempt a penalty goal from 35 metres out. The ploy failed to come off; New Zealand stemmed yet another virile Wallaby attack and the visitors lost their last chance of pulling off a surprise, but fully deserved victory.

Kearns's front-row partner, Dan Crowley, also presumably suffered a brain explosion earlier in the match when in full view of the TV cameras, not to mention the astonished spectators of Eden Park's No 1 stand he blatantly booted the New Zealand flanker Josh Kronfeld in the head. Kronfeld, who should now be able to make a fortune extolling the virtues of his black helmet emerged unscathed. The referee, Ray Megson, missed the incident and after the match the All Black camp refused to take the matter further.

The vigilant New Zealand video brigade, however, took no time in citing Crowley and yesterday's disciplinary hearing found him guilty of "dangerous and foul play" and he was suspended for three weeks.

His absence and that of the injured Matt Burke will be a major blow to the Wallabies for the return match on Saturday in Sydney. Their new-look team, with six changes from the team that lost to England in the World Cup, was unlucky not to win this tense 99th encounter between the two countries.

New Zealand started well, despite playing into a strong blustery wind in the first half. As torrential rain swept across the ground, the All Blacks persisted with the same high-speed, high-risk tactics which made them the sensation of the World Cup. No tries resulted for New Zealand but when at the end of the first half Australia were only 10-9 ahead, it seemed as if a high- scoring New Zealand victory was there for the taking.

The Wallabies, however, dominated much of the second half. Their new scrum-half Steve Merrick showed plenty of enterprise and a penchant for running from the base of the scrum. Supported by the powerful back row of Tim Gavin, Willie Ofahengaue and the Tongan-born, former junior All Black Daniel Manu, Merrick often had the All Blacks on the back foot.

Still trailing 16-15 with 10 minutes left, the New Zealanders retained sufficient composure to wait for the lucky break, it came when Michael Jones nabbed Pat Howard in front of the Australian posts, and Andrew Mehrtens kicked the ensuing penalty. Mehrtens, who finished with 23 points, slotted a further drop goal seven minutes later but it took a moment of brilliance from Frank Bunce to seal the game for New Zealand.

Twenty-five metres from his own line, Bunce broke the tackles, burst up the right hand touchline before unloading to Mike Brewer. Brewer fed Jeff Wilson, who accelerated away before sending Jonah Lomu over for his first try on Eden Park. With Mehrtens' conversion the score leapt to 28- 16, and seconds later Sean Fitzpatrick held the huge Bledisloe Cup aloft.

Scorers: Australia: Try Lomu; Conversion Mehrtens. Penalties: Mehrtens; Drop goals Mehrtens (2). New Zealand: Try Ofahengaue. Conversion Roff. Penalties: Burke, Roff (2).

NEW ZEALAND: G Osborne; J Wilson, F Bunce, W Little, J Lomu; A Mehrtens, G Bachop; C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown, I Jones, R Brooke, M Brewer, J Kronfeld, Z Brooke (M Jones, 52).

AUSTRALIA: M Burke (P Howard, 30); D Smith, J Little, T Horan, J Roff; S Bowen, S Merrick; D Crowley, P Kearns (capt), M Hartill, W Waugh, J Eales, W Ofahengaue, D Manu, T Gavin (T Coker 73).

Referee: R Megson, Scotland.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?