Both of these teams enter every tournament expecting to lift the cup. Although this was not the spot either was hoping for, any match between Australia and New Zealand will bring out the best in the players.
The first points of the match went to Australia through James Stannard, who was the hero of the lsat match to reach this fifth-place final. The conversion by Stannard, at the midway point of the half, was good. New Zealand drew level when Vilimoni Koroi exploded down the right wing for a try going away. Andrew Knewstubb’s conversion completed the seven-point play.
New Zealand kicked the restart deep, setting up an Australia lineout inside the Aussie’s twenty-two. Despite winning the lineout, Australia soon found itself facing New Zealand with a penalty restart at the attacking twenty-two-meter line. Australia’s defense held the All Blacks at bay and set up a chance to break the deadlock before halftime. It was not to be, and the teams had to settle for the final seven minutes to completely decide the outcome.
In the first minute of the second half, New Zealand narrowly missed out on taking the lead after an interception in its own territory lead to a kick ahead by Ngarohi McGarvey Black that skirted across the dead-ball line before Black could get to it.
Still knotted up at 7 with 2:09 remaining, James Stannard fed an Australian scrum on his own five-meterline. Australia won the scrum and Stannard beautifully kicked from his own try zone to touch five meters into the New Zealand half. New Zealand won the lineout and Etene Nanai-Seturo wrapped through the defense, finally being tackled approaching the Australian five-meter line. New Zealand retreated a bit, but Black forced an opening and passed out to Sam Dickson on the outside for the try in the left corner. The conversion was astray, giving Australia a lifeline.
The final restart of the half came with no time remaining and, consequently, no margin of error for Australia. New Zealand kicked inside the Australia twenty-two, where Stannard grabbed the ball on a single bounce. Tim Anstee got the fans on their feet as he found a gap, but a tap of the shoe prevented him from breaking free. New Zealand then committed a penalty at midfield, giving Australia one last chance. That chance led to points for captain Lewis Holland. Astonishingly, Holland chose to dive over the line in the corner, despite the opportunity to move in closer, which would have aided Stannard’s conversion attempt. Instead, it was a second consecutive trip to extra time for Australia, having just defeated Kenya in A.E.T.
In the first minute of extra-time, Joe Webber ran out of space and passed back inside for Black. The ball hit the deck and Black chipped ahead trying to catch up before the ball could roll over the dead-ball line as it had in the first half. He got to it right as it crossed the line, necessitating a review before disallowing the score.
In the fourth minute of extra time, Australia got to within ten meters of paydirt, but lost possession. New Zealand got the ball back and Sione Molia went cost-to-cost for the try under the post and the coveted fifth-place points: New Zealand 17, Australia 12.