Rugby Union: Carozza gives All Blacks the slip in series

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Australia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

New Zealand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

PAUL CAROZZA is almost certainly the smallest player in international rugby, but the 5ft 5 1/2 in Australian wing showed his size was no handicap by scoring two crucial tries to give the Wallabies a historic victory over New Zealand yesterday.

The diminutive squabber, as he is known to his team-mates, scored Australia's first try seconds before half-time to put his side ahead 11-7. His second effort - going under, rather than through, his marker, John Kirwan - eight minutes before full time settled the match and the series in favour of the Wallabies.

Carozza was also the central figure in what may well become another international incident. While scoring his first try, Carozza appeared to be hit when on the ground by an arm or elbow from Richard Loe, the All Black prop.

Laurie Mains, the All Blacks coach, said he had no comment to make, suggesting it was another Australian tactic to destabilise the New Zealand camp. But the Australian Rugby Football Union appears to be taking the matter seriously and an official complaint is expected to be laid.

The usually mild-mannered Australian coach, Bob Dwyer, was incensed. 'It was a cowardly and disgraceful act which has no part in the game of rugby,' he said. 'I couldn't believe that it had happened. I would say that if Loe gets out of this one, he's a miracle man. It is up to others to judge if he should be playing international rugby, but one has to question his motives for going on to the field.'

The incident was not seen by either the referee or the touch- judge. Video evidence, though, appeared to be conclusive, showing that Loe had struck Carozza after the try had been scored. Under the new laws, this could result in suspension for Loe.

Celebrating this first win over New Zealand at Ballymore and their first home success in the Bledisloe Cup series since 1979, the Wallabies took the cumbersome silver trophy on a victory lap before a record crowd here. 'It's just fantastic,' Nick Farr-Jones, Australia's captain, said. 'Not quite as good as winning the World Cup, but this cup is just as much a symbol of world rugby supremacy. I'm just so proud of my team.'

Justly so, because the Wallabies, in a game played at breakneck speed, repelled time and again a determined and, at times, imaginative New Zealand team. The lead changed hands no fewer than four times in the second half and twice - after Kirwan scored a try from a magnificient 80-metre counter-attack, and again after Grant Fox had kicked a penalty from 40 metres with only 10 minutes to play - it looked as though the All Blacks had victory in their grasp. 'We made three or four mistakes when we were in a position to get points. That's what cost us the match. But that's Test rugby,' Laurie Mains, the New Zealand coach,' said.

But the Wallabies, as they showed against Ireland in Dublin in the World Cup and again in the first Test in Sydney, have developed an uncanny capacity to absorb pressure and to retain their composure. Even when Kirwan scored to give New Zealand the lead 14-11 shortly after half-time, Farr-Jones said he still felt totally confident. 'I just told the team that there was no need to panic; that they should remain positive and if we all did our job we would make it.'

It took them a further thrilling 20 minutes, but eventually they drew level with a penalty from Michael Lynagh. Fox then replied two minutes later to give New Zealand another slender lead. But Australia, as proof of their dominance in the final quarter, came back almost immediately, Lynagh's perfectly judged up-and- under preparing the way for Carozza's second try. 'I just saw the corner flag and kept my legs going as much as I could,' Carozza said.

Australia: Tries Carozza 2; Penalties Lynagh 3. New Zealand: Tries Timu, Kirwan; Conversions Fox 2; Penalty Fox.

Australia: M Roebuck; P Carozza, J Little, T Horan, D Campese; M Lynagh, N Farr-Jones (capt); T Daly, P Kearns, E McKenzie, R McCall, J Eales, T Coker, D Wilson, S Scott- Young.

New Zealand: J Timu; J Kirwan, F Bunce, W Little, V Tuigamala; G Fox, A Strachan; R Loe, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown, I Jones, R Brooke, A Earl, K Schuler (A Pene, 9), Z Brooke.

Referee: P Robin (France).