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Monday, November 25, 2013
Rejuvenated Australia paceman
Mitchell Johnson blitzed England
with a haul of five for 42 to lead
his country to an emphatic 381-
run victory in the first Ashes test
It was a first win in 10 tests for
Australia after losing a series 4-0
in India and another in England
3-0 this year, and a first triumph
in eight Ashes contests since the
Perth test in 2010.
e weather, which delayed play
twice for more than two hours, at
one stage looked like extending the
sometimes fractious contest into a
fifth day before Johnson stepped
up to polish off the final English
batsmen in the Gabba twilight.
England s hopes of any kind of
result at Brisbane had been slim at
best when they were set a record
561 to win and lost two second
innings wickets for only 24 runs
on Saturday evening.
ey were shattered when the
dismissal of captain Alastair Cook
for 65 triggered a collapse from
142 for four to 160 for eight in
the 45 minutes between the two
e victory was a confirmation of
a renewed sense of confidence in
the Australia team after a miserable
year and will strengthen their
belief that they can stop England
winning a fourth successive Ashes
"As a team, we ve copped a
fair bit of criticism of late, and
our performances have probably
deserved that," Australia captain
Michael Clarke said.
" e win is very important, very
special to us, it s a great way to start
the series. We ll enjoy it, no doubt
about that, but we re seven or eight
days away from the second test
match and we know England will
come back harder."
Left-arm quick Johnson, who
took 4-61 as the tourists were
skittled for 136 in their first
innings and contributed 103 runs
with the bat, was named man
of the match after claiming his
eighth test five-wicket haul.
Cook said England would
regroup and come out fighting in
the second test in Adelaide but
needed to take a long, hard look at
how they dealt with Johnson.
"We re going to have to be really
honest with ourselves about how
we go about trying to play him,"
he said. "We can t brush the issue,
he s hurt us in this game and we re
going to come back and show our
ability in the next game. It s just
one loss, it s a five-match test series
so there s plenty of time to fight
back. We ve done it before."
England made a reasonable start
to the day but Kevin Pietersen
(26) and Ian Bell (32) lost their
wickets with shots they need not
As in the first innings when
England lost six wickets for nine
runs in one spell, though, it was
spinner Nathan Lyon (2-46) who
really got the ball rolling for the
Cook, who scored 235 not out
in his second innings in the last
Ashes test at the Gabba, had
played a composed and defiant
innings with just three boundaries
before a dramatic hailstorm forced
the players off the field.
Six balls after the resumption,
Lyon got a little bit of extra bounce
out of the surface and Cook caught
a top edge with an attempted
cut with Brad Haddin taking the
catch behind the wickets.
England were only able to add
only six runs for the next three
wickets with Matt Prior (4), Stuart
Broad (4) and Graeme Swann (0)
quickly following their captain
back to the pavilion.
Lyon, who later got his first
chance to lead Australia in the
victory song despite being given
the task last January, had Prior
caught at leg slip by David Warner
after just eight minutes in the
A bullish Broad lasted just three
deliveries and five minutes before
he got the faintest of touches to
a Johnson delivery which again
Haddin snaffled up.
Swann lasted just two balls
before a meek fend at a Johnson
snorter saw the ball fly into the
hands of a diving Steve Smith in
England regrouped sufficiently
to survive until the rain started
falling again but the storm passed
reasonably quickly and the players
were back out with an hour of
play remaining. Chris Tremlett
blocked for seven runs until a
rising Ryan Harris ball came off
the splint of his bat into the hands
of George Bailey at short leg.
at left Joe Root (26 not out)
and James Anderson as England s
last two batsmen and fittingly it
was Johnson who dealt the coup
de grace by dismissing his fellow
quick caught and bowled to trigger
As a youngster growing up on the
Hibiscus Coast, Shaun Johnson was
like a lot of children who used to
dream about scoring the winning
try for his country on rugby league s
It probably went along the lines of
stepping past a couple of defenders
before diving over and being swamped
by his delirious team-mates.
It is exactly what happened yesterday
morning as he scored with 20 seconds
remaining in the World Cup semi-
final and then landed the crucial
conversion after the final hooter had
sounded to hand the Kiwis a dramatic
20-18 victory over England.
His hands were shaking as he lined
up the conversion and memories of his
fluffed kick for the Warriors against
the Roosters at Eden Park this year
that would have taken the game into
golden point resurfaced. He tried to
approach it like any other kick, which
it was not, before watching it sail
between the uprights.
"It is a bit of a blur," he said. "It
feels surreal at the moment ... just to
see the looks on the boys faces and
see how much it means to all of us.
at s probably the most pleasing
thing about what happened in that last
minute. I got the ball and was able to
beat a couple of people and score a try,
but seeing the boys faces, that beats it
all. I m just stoked.
"I didn t think at all. I can remember
going to that left edge because there
was some space. We d been attacking
the right edge all night with Sonny. I
looked up and saw they had three or
four players covering half the field,
so I drifted over there, got a pass and
whatever happened, happened."
e Kiwis found themselves trailing
18-14 with time almost up but they
had one more opportunity as they
worked themselves close to the line.
Frank-Paul Nu uausala found himself
at dummy-half after hooker Issac
Luke was tackled close to the line and
heaved out a loopy pass to Johnson
about 15m away. e 23-year-old
halfback beat the first defender who
rushed up at him and then jinked his
way through two more Englishmen
before diving over in front of a shocked
He returned to the dressing
room to find countless messages of
congratulations on his phone. "All of
my friends and family. at makes
it even more special, knowing how
proud I ve made my mum and dad and
brother." His father was among the
67,545-strong crowd at Wembley.
of the Herald on Sunday
A day of heartbreak for Ireland.
Another night of pain, what ifs and
could have beens.
ey will not care that they were
heroic. ey will not care that they
won global admiration for their
execution, contact work, creativity
and crunching defence. It will not
matter one little bit that they went
79 minutes head to head against
the All Blacks and led.
What matters to them is that they
contrived to lose a game when they
had the ball and there was only 30
seconds left on the clock.
ey will all try hard not to think
about Johnny Sexton s missed
penalty with a few minutes left.
It was kick-able and if it had gone
over, history was Ireland s to grasp
and cherish: to drink and make
merry with until the wee small
Imagine the party in Dublin..?
Ireland is not thinking that maybe
it is never to be. ey came so close
in Christchurch last year and now
e fact Aaron Cruden had to be
given a second go at the conversion
--- well, that was just cruel, but
what choice did the referee have?
e Irish had rushed early and the
rules are the rules.
Anyway, Ireland s coach Joe
Schmidt did not care about that.
e game should have been closed
out long before then, he reckoned.
"You never feel the taste of it
(victory) in your mouth until the
final whistle goes and we had to
play to the final whistle and they
got over in injury time," he said.
"We were in possession with 20
seconds to go and were penalised
for off our feet and we had to
defend that last phase. You ve got
to be prepared to defend to the end
and we didn t quite keep them out.
"It s a step forward but a missed
opportunity. You don t get too many
opportunities to play against the All
Blacks and you don t get too many
opportunities to stop them doing
something that was pretty special.
We were hanging on by a thread
and the thread was just a little bit
too thin to make sure that we did
"To be a minute away from
history and to have the ball on
your hands on their 10m line. Yeah,
Ireland have had too many close
results but no cigar moments
against the All Blacks to feel any
joy in this one. e mood in Dublin
was unquestionably sombre. None
of that brave loser was being
bandied about and Ireland could
feel only pain about one minute
rather than any joy about 79.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen and
captain Richie McCaw saluted a special
All Blacks team after they completed a
clean sweep of victories this year with a
last-gasp win over Ireland this morning.
Hansen s team have set new standards
since he took over from Graham Henry
after the World Cup victory in 2011,
losing just once before becoming the
first team in the professional era to win
all their test matches in a calendar year.
ey had to dig deep, though, for their
14th and final win of the year when they
came back from three first-half tries
down to edge past Ireland 24-22 thanks
to a stoppage-time converted try on a
dramatic day in Dublin.
"Nineteen down...it wasn t the script,
that s for sure," Hansen, who was full
of praise for the opponents, told a news
"I m extremely proud of the 23 guys
we had in our group today. To come
from where we had to come from and
claw our way across the line, it s a pretty
special effort and it says why they are a
"Everybody has a lot of faith in the
group we had on the park and we just
knew that if we could hold on to the ball
for long enough, we were going to score
(but) if they d put a heart rate monitor
on us, it would have been going through
New Zealand straddled their World
Cup victory two years ago with 16
consecutive wins and have twice won 15
times in a row in the last decade but this
year s run was the first so-called perfect
year since the game turned professional
ey mostly flattened all before them
in the southern hemisphere, and then the
northern, but had a few close calls along
the way too, showing, as Ireland coach
Joe Schmidt noted during the week, they
have resilience to match their class.
South Africa, seen as the closest
challengers to All Black hegemony,
scored four tries and twice took what
looked like game-winning leads in the
final game of the rugby championship
yet New Zealand still wrapped up the
title with a 38-27 win.
Last week they had to survive a
fightback from England, the last team to
defeat them, who came back to within
two points while there was a similar
scare in Paris a week earlier before they
emerged victorious over France.
en today when Ireland were on the
verge of a first victory in 108 years of
trying. Recalling a club game 12 years
ago when former All Blacks lock Todd
Blackadder fired up a young McCaw, the
flanker said the key was never to give in.
"It comes down to belief. When I was a
young player, I was in a provincial game
and we were down by a similar 29 to very
little. I thought the game was over and
the captain said: Believe . We got home
and forever since then I ve never, ever
given up," McCaw, three-times World
player of the year, said.
"I ve always been proud of All Blacks
teams, you never give up and never stop
believing there s a chance. We had 15
guys out there still believing today right
to the last minute and it s amazing what
While their starting XV against
England had more than 800 caps
between them, Hansen has also begun
to rebuild the squad ahead of the 2015
World Cup, developing depth in key
positions, changing almost half of the
team for today s clash.
McCaw, who has watched his side win
eight of their last nine contests against
the Springboks and go unbeaten in their
last seven against Australia, was quick to
acknowledge that the gruelling year was
a collective effort.
"To be honest, at the minute it s just
relief to have got across the line today
but as the day goes on we ll reflect over
what s been a pretty tough year, to have
been able to win them all, I think there s
a hell of a lot of pride," he said.
"We probably used 40-odd players over
the year and a bunch of management
worked extremely hard. It doesn t just
happen on a Saturday and I think that s
what we can all reflect on and give
ourselves a pat on the back."
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Black Ryan Crotty scores the match-winning try this morning over Ireland at Aviva Stadium, in Dublin.
All Blacks captain Richie
McCaw, in reflecting on an
incredible comeback from his
team against Ireland this morning,
says if Johnny Sexton had kicked a
late penalty it would have been all
over for his side.
Instead, Sexton sent the kick
in the final minutes wide and
the All Blacks clawed their way
back to win 24-22, Ryan Crotty
and Aaron Cruden providing
the late dramatics with a try and
conversion after the 80 minutes
"When they took that shot at
goal, which would have put them
out to eight points (ahead) the
reality is if that had gone over it
was probably game over," McCaw
said. "But when that missed you
could sense a lift in the boys, we
were still a chance and perhaps the
Irish boys, they were trying to eat
up time and when that happens
you sense an opportunity could
Coach Steven Hansen,
celebrating his team s perfect
season with 14 wins from 14 tests,
agreed, saying: "If they had kicked
the goal it was all over but they
gave us a sniff and that s what
makes us as coaches very proud
because it was special to take
advantage of that."
Crotty s try on the left, sent to
the TMO for approval by referee
Nigel Owens, drew the All Blacks
level at 22-22, with Cruden s
conversion, which he took twice
after the Irish charged his first
unsuccessful attempt, sealing it.
Tries from Conor Murray, Rory
Best and Rob Kearney gave Ireland
a 19-0 lead after as many minutes
before the All Blacks came back,
scoring through Julian Savea and
Ben Franks before Crotty s late
heroics. It meant the All Blacks
maintained their unbeaten record
against the Irish.
"Early in the game they certainly
rattled us," Hansen said. "Down
19-0, it wasn t in the script, that s
for sure. ey should take a lot of
credit out of their performance. In
saying that, I m incredibly proud of
the 23 guys in our team. To claw
our way back across the line was a
pretty special effort and it takes a
pretty special team to be able to do
that. Maybe another day Ireland
would have won it but we ll take
it and reflect over the summer on
what has been a great year but at
the same realise we have a lot of
work to do to stay where we are.
" e Irish all of a sudden
thought gee whiz, we re in this .
We expected them to be tough,
every time we play them they re
tough. But sometimes I don t think
they actually believe that they re as
tough as they are."
Ireland s New Zealand-born
coach Joe Schmidt said: "To be
a minute away from history and
to have the ball in your hands on
their 10m line (and lose), yeah
us. We haven t won in 108 years
of trying against those guys, you
know. ere s been a draw before
but we wanted to do what had
never been done before." --- APNZ
e Kiwis need most things to go
right if they are to topple Australia
in the World Cup final next
weekend and the week started well
with news Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
has been cleared of a fractured leg.
e 20-year-old winger has
been one of the stars of the
tournament, and his eight tries
puts him one behind Jarryd Hayne
who has scored all of his points in
Australia s last three games.
He took a knock to his right
shin late in the dramatic 20-18
win over England and was in
immediate discomfort but was able
to complete the match. His lower
leg was soon put into a moonboot,
which required crutches, and New
Zealand doctor Simon Mayhew
was 50-50 on whether it was a
fracture or not.
Tuivasa-Sheck had an x-ray
overnight which cleared him of
any fracture but he will still need
to prove his fitness to take the field
"I will be all good," he confidently
predicted immediately after the
game. "I still have a couple of days
and I need to trust the doctor. ey
got me right for this game after I
hurt my ribs (against Scotland) and
hopefully they will get me right for
the next one."
e Kiwis need Tuivasa-Sheck,
who is an impressive youngster
both on and off the field. Not
only can he dance his way around
opposition and score spectacular
tries in the corner but he is also
safe under the high ball, strong
defensively and rarely takes the
He made one bad decision against
England, when he lost possession after
offloading close to his own line, but it is
not likely to be a mistake he makes again.
Manu Vatuvei is making good progress
from his groin strain and there is
optimism he will be fit to play Australia
but second-rower Frank Pritchard
(hamstring) is still a concern. A number
of others were very sore after a bruising
match with England but the euphoria of
their late win was a perfect healing tonic.
e Kiwis will relocate to Manchester
tonight in good spirits. ey celebrated
the win over England at the team hotel
with friends and family in a low-key
affair before a recovery session at a local
swimming pool the following morning.
Utility Elijah Taylor is rooming with
Tuivasa-Sheck and helped his team-mate
with his rehabilitation even though he
was also banged up.
" ankfully he s been cleared," Taylor
said. "I was making sure I had the ice
machine ready for him last night. He s
my team-mate. I will give him every
chance to play this week because I think
that s my responsibility. He s a great kid
and I would love to have him on our
" e doctor was happy but Roger
still heard something click and even
the England players said they heard
something. Hopefully he will be alright."
Tuivasa-Sheck scored a double against
England, the first after a phenomenal
piece of agility and skill by centre Dean
Whare who flicked the ball back infield
while in mid-air, and he now knows all
"I don t think they have ever played
tennis here," he quipped after earlier in
the week thinking Wembley was the
famous tennis venue. "I loved it. It will
be a dream to play in a World Cup final.
It s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and
hopefully I will be right for it."
He is wrong about it being his only
chance, given his youth, but right now he
is more worried about the second part of
that statement. --- APNZ
PICTURE: Getty Images
Kiwis Shaun Johnson celebrates his winning try with team-mates in yesterday s semi-final encounter with England at Wembley Stadium.
Penalty miss gave us lift, --- McCaw
ABs sneak past Ireland
LEAGUE WORLD CUP
England Kiwis winger cleared of broken leg
Win still a blur for Johnson
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