Ruck and Maul: Beale has last word as Wallabies win first Tri-Nations for a decade
Kurtley Beale finished off a brilliant sweeping move to enable Australia to beat New Zealand 25-20 in Brisbane and win the Tri-Nations title for the first time since 2001.
The Wallabies withstood a furious second-half revival from the All Blacks, who scored 17 unanswered points to level at 20-20. A storming, 60-metre solo effort from recalled Wallaby No 8 Radike Samo helped Australia to a commanding 20-3 lead in the first half in which the home side dominated as the sluggish All Blacks committed a succession of errors.
Samo, returning from the international rugby wilderness having not started a Test since 2004, lit up Lang Park with a bullocking 60-metre run to the line. The All Blacks were a completely different side in the second half, as they controlled possession and built phases, with the fly-half Dan Carter adding his second penalty before Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu both scored tries.
England will fly to New Zealand tomorrow having had their only World Cup winning manager – Sir Clive Woodward – watching over their every move during the past two months at their swanky training base in Surrey.
Well, the spirit of Sir Clive, anyway, as represented in a personalised stained-glass window in a corridor leading to the plushest suites of the team hotel. Guests in the five-star Pennyhill Park's rugby-themed bedrooms get an eye-level view of the metre-tall window that depicts a whimsical Woodward coat of arms.
A shield divided into quarters shows a fleur-de-lis, a rugby ball, the initials CRW and a set of golf clubs, all above the motto "Woody". It was a tribute to the 2003 World Cup win by the hotel's managing director, Danny Pecorelli, who asks staff to dream up coats of arms for personalities.
Woodward still uses the hotel on British Olympic Association business.
England enjoyed a send-off dinner at Twickenham last Monday evening, when 500 revellers were treated to Brian Blessed's recorded voice screaming lines from Henry V, and compere Martin Bayfield preferring to tease the captain Lewis Moody rather than lay into the more obvious targets, the RFU alickadoos.
The governing body's council remains at loggerheads with its board over Judge Jeff Blackett's report, the lack of a chief executive or performance director and Martin Johnson's future as manager. The lads were gone by 10pm, an hour before the band, who played for free in support of Comic Relief, came on.
Who they? A clue: the second songin the set went, "You're an embarrassment"... you've got it: It was Madness at the RFU.
Five stars and hostelries
Saracens are well known for their team-bonding – you will recall the previous wheezes such as a mid-season trip to the Munich Beer Festival – but the new Premiership champions this summer scattered their players across Europe in an initiative test.
While the coaches flew to Toulon for a friendly, the players were given money and train tickets and dispatched in six groups to destinations including Geneva, Girona and Nimes – and told to get to Toulon by 6pm the next day.
Schalk Brits checked into a five-star hotel in Barcelona. Others saved cash in youth hostels. But Steve Borthwick whisked his group straight to Marseilles for a night out. Sarries lost 26-17.
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