All Blacks' top Bledisloe Cup tests in Sydney

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:11 14/08/2014
Stuff.co.nz

The trans-Tasman rivalry is heating up, and we bring you five of the greatest Bledisloe Test Match victories won over in Sydney.

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Sydney has been the scene for some sensational Bledisloe Cup battles in the professional era. As the All Blacks prepare to open the 2014 series there on Saturday here are our top six from the memory banks.

1 - 2000: NZ 39, Aus 35

A world record rugby crowd of 109,874 was treated to one of the game's greatest spectacles. Wallaby captain John Eales described it as the most amazing game of his legendary career.

Three All Blacks tries in the opening five minutes set the tone but the Wallabies bounced back to level proceedings at 24-all at halftime. The see-sawing second half saw Australia ahead 35-34 with the clock ticking down.

But the All Blacks mounted a final, furious attack with Taine Randell, playing one of his best tests, showing athletic skills to hurl an overhead pass to Jonah Lomu who stormed down the left touchline and score the deciding try.

2 - 2003: NZ 50, Aus 21

This was a false dawn given what would unravel at the same ground five months later with a World Cup semifinal defeat.

But it remains the All Blacks highest score against the Wallabies - and Australia's heaviest defeat on home soil - so a half century deserves recognition. Wing Joe 

Rokocoko was the individual star with a hat-trick among the All Blacks seven tries as the backs ran amok.

The Tri-Nations title came with this victory and it was a crucial away result in a 3-0 sweep of the Australians that returned the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand for the first time since 1997 - a giant piece of silverware the All Blacks have held ever since.

3 - 2010: NZ 23, Aus 22

We love a comeback and when the All Blacks are forced to fight from 6-19 down to claim a victory on foreign soil, recognition is deserved.

And who better to provide the inspiration than captain fantastic Richie McCaw whose second half try sparked the revival. It stopped the rot of an error-riddled effort, turning horror into hope.

Six points adrift with seven minutes left , the All Blacks skipper turned down a shot at goal to push for a try. The risk was rewarded with Kieran Reid eventually crashing over next to the posts after a series of drives at the line.

McCaw, mighty in defence, also had the honour of eclipsing the great Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped All Blacks captain with 52 tests in charge.

4 - 2013: NZ 47, Aus 29

Let's keep it current. The last time the All Blacks played in Sydney was absolutely stunning. And, pleasingly, it was the new generation of players who were at the forefront of this remarkable victory.

Aaron Cruden's growing claims at No 10 were emphasised with a 20-point haul - a try, three penalties and three conversions. But it was Ben Smith who really stamped his mark on the match with a hat-trick of tries, causing chaos on the right wing.

And in a forwards effort where plenty of fire was required to overcome a determined Wallabies pack, new boy Steven Luatua stood out. Called up at the last minute to replace Liam Messam, the big blindside looked instantly comfortable.

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The All Blacks completely dominated the final hour and took their tally of tries to six, Australia gaining a late strike to James O'Connor on the final siren to mask their blushes.

5 - 2009: NZ 19, Aus 18

Tension earns this test its place in our top six. It wasn't pretty but it was tight - to the bitter end.

A Dan Carter penalty goal with two minutes left eventually got the All Blacks across the line, though they had to repel one final Wallabies raid after the siren, forcing reserve prop Ben Alexander to knock-on five metres from the try line.

Penalties dominated - Matt Giteau kicked six for all of the Australian points and Carter landed four. Replacement centre Ma'a Nonu scored the only try of the night, a second half effort that completed a rare but brilliant backline movement.

6 - 2005: NZ 30, Aus 13

This was a tricky assignment, a second away match in as many weeks with the All Blacks having to back up from a 22-16 loss to the Springboks in Cape Town. And when the All Blacks fell behind by 13 points in 13 minutes, the alarms bells started ringing.

That's when the character in the team started to rise. They eventually piled on 30 unanswered points, rallying for a superb victory.

It was the forwards who laid the foundations, dominating the rucks and mauls and blitzing the Wallabies' wobbly scrum. Piri Weepu ignited the comeback and Dan Carter kept the points ticking over with his boot.

Some quick thinking from Richie McCaw with a try from a tap penalty added insult to the Australians. It was left to Joe Rokocoko to put the icing on the victory, running almost 70 metres, chip kicking and gathering the ball again to run in between the posts.

- Stuff

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