Kurtley Beale says Australia’s narrow loss to the All Blacks “cuts the heart” but is a manifestation of a belief within the Wallabies set-up they can match it with any team in the world.
After opening up a 17-0 lead in the first 15 minutes, the Wallabies then had to deal with the rampaging All Blacks who scored the next three tries.
Beale was almost Australia’s hero, scoring a try in the 76th minute with blood pouring down his face, before New Zealand finished the job from the ensuing kick-off thanks to a match-winner from No.10 Beauden Barrett.
The Wallabies No.12 had one of his best games in a gold jersey, highlighted by a dogged defensive effort, where he outshone All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams.
To be two minutes away from keeping the Bledisloe Cup alive and on the cusp of breaking a 16-year drought on New Zealand soil is something Beale said cut the group to its core.
“That one really hurts, heartbreaking stuff, huge effort from the lads, couldn’t ask anything more,” Beale said. “Both teams played to the very end and it’s just unfortunate that we were put in that position in the end and that one really just cuts the heart.
“After that second-last try, there was still a long time to go, so it was a matter of just trying to exit from our half and that was our focus. They changed the point of attack to kick to the right side and we just got caught off-guard and they made that kick into a contestable … it was the luck of the bounce for them.
“Just got to try and soak it in and try and remember this one so when we come back next time, we’ll be playing with a lot to prove.”
One of the main talking points out of Dunedin was Bernard Foley’s wayward kicking. Australia’s No.10 missed four of six kicks (three conversions and a penalty in the first half).
A more precise kicking game from Foley could have been enough to get the Wallabies over the line but Beale has defended his Waratahs teammate, saying Australia had chances to put the result beyond doubt earlier.
“It’s just unfortunate that it hit the post [three times],” Beale said. “Obviously he’s gone through his own processes and he’s striking the ball very well.
“We gave ourselves plenty of opportunities, we took them when we did and we probably left a couple out there as well, but that’s rugby. What do you say? Just a tough way to end a big performance from our boys.”
Before the match, almost nobody gave the Wallabies a chance.
There was a prediction they could concede 100 points, a headline in a Kiwi newspaper to “Tell ’em they’re dreaming” and fanciful odds from bookmakers that if anything, proved to be perfect motivation for Michael Cheika’s men.
Early break: Israel Folau scores for the Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Test. Photo: AAP
The Wallabies left Dunedin on Sunday with the respect of not just the Australian rugby public, but the admiration of rugby watchers all over the world.
It seems all the chat in the lead-up to the match about them building towards something great might not have been false hope after the shellacking they copped in Sydney.
“We still believe that we’re growing into the team that we want to be,” Beale said. “We want to be up there and be amongst the best.
“We’ve all got a lot of respect and love for each other and that’s going to help us build into a great team. People won’t believe anything that I’ll probably say now but I think there is a lot of self-belief in our group at the moment. These young guys are standing up to the plate and the senior guys are directing the team … down a really good path.
“Obviously there’s a new generation of players coming through and there’s a lot of hope, a lot of skills that can help us get there. I think after tonight’s performance, we’ll definitely take a lot from that and build into a strong week against the Africans in a couple of weeks.
“I’m proud of the boys for sticking at it.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.