BARBARIANS 25-18 NEW ZEALAND
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 5th December 2009
A STUNNING try hat-trick from South African wing Bryan Habana propelled the Barbarians side to a 25 -18 victory over New Zealand at Twickenham, giving the world’s most exclusive rugby club its first win over the All Blacks since their legendary Cardiff Arms Park triumph in 1973.
Flying Springbok Habana scored two breakaways in the first half and finished a close-range effort in the second period for an invitational side led superbly by Wallabies fly-half Matt Giteau.
Giteau notched two conversions and a penalty with South Africa’s Morne Steyn kicking a penalty two minutes from time to seal the Baa-Baas' first win since Gareth Edwards finished off the best try in rugby history 36 years ago.
New Zealand fielded a second-string side which lacked the hand of Daniel Carter on the tiller, but the All Blacks mustered tries from wing Ben Smith and lock Anthony Boric, with Carter’s stand-in at stand-off, Stephen Donald, contributing a penalty and a conversion while Mike Delaney also clipped over a late penalty.
The Baa-Baas’ victory sent New Zealand, who had beaten Wales, England, Italy and France on their northern hemisphere tour, home on a losing note.
Donald opened the scoring for New Zealand with a fifth-minute penalty, but
Habana dived in for the Baa-Baas' first try in the tenth minute courtesy of an offload from Australian full-back Drew Mitchell.
Smith hit back for the All Blacks, finishing off a move started by inside centre Luke McAlister, but the Baa-Baas were back in front when Habana intercepted a stray Donald pass and streaked away to score.
Giteau then stretched the Barbarians' lead to seven points with a well-struck long-range penalty in the 57th minute.
Nine minutes later, Boric burrowed his way over after another break from the on-form McAlister set up quick ruck ball down the right wing, but replacement outside-half Mike Delany missed the conversion.
But with 12 minutes to play, Habana bagged his hat-trick to make the game more or less safe, capitalising on superb work from Giteau and Steyn.
New Zealand opted for a penalty kick to bring the score back to 22-18 as the clock wound down but Steyn had the final say with a match-clinching long-range penalty.
SCOTLAND 6-9 ARGENTINA
MURRAYFIELD – Saturday 28th November 2009
Attendance: Not reported
ARGENTINA brought Scotland crashing back to earth after their famous rearguard win over Australia with an against-the-odds 9-6 win over Andy Robinson’s men which denied the Scots a clean sweep of Autumn Test victories.
After beating Fiji and the Wallabies, Scotland started out against the Pumas on a positive note but by the final whistle the contest had underlined all that is good and bad about the current Scottish squad.
Scotland did everything but points on the board in a decent first-half display but poor discipline dragged them down after the break and the Pumas, who had previously lost to England and Wales, took full advantage.
The visitors barely got a touch in the first half, claiming 71 per cent possession and 74 per cent of the territorial advantage and that earned them a 6-0 half-time lead thanks to two penalties from fly-half Phil Godman, who also missed twice.
He also wasted the best try-scoring chance of the opening 40 minutes, opting to chip ahead when keeping the ball in hand and moving it wide was the better option.
After the break, fired-up Argentina took charge and the Scots found themselves a man short when lock Nathan Hines was sin-binned for a cynical spear tackle.
Wing Sean Lamont left the action with a suspected broken leg on the hour before Rodriguez clipped over a penalty to get the Pumas back into the contest.
Rodriguez struck again to level it up at 6-6 as the match moved into its final quarter and, after the Scots wasted another great chance generated by a length-of-the-field break by Sean Lamont and Chris Cusiter, Rodriguez calmly stroked Argentina to a 9-6 victory with a drop-goal with two minutes left.
P: Godman 2
ITALY 24-6 SAMOA
STADIO DEL LUCA, ASCOLI PICENO – Saturday 28th November
Attendance: Not Reported
LUKE McLean's first-half try set Italy on the way to their first Test victory since June 2008 with Samoa the victims at the Stadio del Luca, where Nick Mallett’s side leapfrogged the south sea islanders into 11th spot in the latest IRB world rankings thanks to their win.
Mallett's Italy side went into the game at Ascoli Piceno looking to end a 13-match run of defeats without captain Sergio Parisse, who is out for four months with a serious right knee injury but they had built a 14-6 lead by half-time after Mirco Bergamasco kicked two penalties, Craig Gower added another and Tito Tebaldi clipped over a drop-goal.
Bergamasco also converted a second-half penalty try, while Samoa, who had Henry Fa’afili sent off for a high tackle on McLean, were unable to register a score after the break with Tito Eau’s two penalties both coming in the first half.
T: McLean, Pen
P: Bergamasco 2, Gower
IRELAND 15-10 SOUTH AFRICA
CROKE PARK – Saturday 28th November 2009
Attendance: Not reported
SIX NATIONS Grand Slam-winners Ireland ended 2009 unbeaten after beating jaded world champions South Africa 15-10 in Dublin, thanks to an assured kicking performance from fly-half newcomer Jonathan Sexton.
In only his second Test start ahead of veteran Ronan O'Gara, the Leinster youngster landed five penalties to help the Irish fight back for a memorable win after the conceded the only try of the match from Schalk Burger in the 16th minute.
The injury-hit Tri-Nations champions ended up ruing three missed kicks at goal from fly-half Morne Steyn and one from substitute Ruan Pienaar, but there was no question that Ireland deserved their win.
Sexton landed an early penalty from long range, but Steyn then sent blind-side flanker Burger over from 20 metres out and Steyn then added the conversion.
A drop-goal from Steyn made it 10-3, but Sexton hit back with a penalty to send Ireland in at half-time four points adrift after Steyn missed three times from long-range.
After the break, Ireland moved 12-10 ahead with two more Sexton penalty goals and, although the Irish scrum was under ferocious pressure from the heavier Springbok tight eight, the visitors never looked like pulling the contest around after a Pienaar penalty came back off an upright.
WALES 16-33 AUSTRALIA
MILLENNIUM STADIUM – Saturday 28th November
WALES trooped off the Millennium Stadium pitch to boos from their own supporters after they suffered the heaviest defeat of Warren Gatland's 22-match reign, which saw the home side succumb to a 33-16 defeat at the hands of Australia without ever looking capable of scoring a try.
Beaten 9-8 by Scotland at Murrayfield a week earlier, the Wallabies took the game away from Wales before the interval in a 16-minute spell which saw centre Digby Ioane, lock James Horwill and flanker David Pocock all romp over the Welsh line.
Replacement hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau hammered the final nail in Wales’ coffin in the second half, while Matt Giteau, who missed a last-gasp conversion which would have been enough to beat Scotland, responded with a 13-point haul.
Gatland's men, billed as the pre-match favourites in some quarters, had to settle for three Stephen Jones penalties and a long-range strike from Leigh Halfpenny.
P: Jones 3, Halfpenny
T: Ioane, Horwill, Pocock, Polota-Nau
C: Giteau 2
P: Giteau 3
FRANCE 12-39 NEW ZEALAND 39
STADE VELODROME, MARSEILLE – Saturday 28th November 2009
Attendance: Not reported
NEW ZEALAND ran in five tries to hand France their first ever Test defeat in Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, winning 39-12 to take revenge for their defeat on home soil in Dunedin last summer and underline their position at the top of the IRB world rankings.
The All Blacks, who finished their northern hemisphere with a clean sweep of wins over England, Wales, Italy and France, came up against a French side which was unable to reproduce the intensity and physicality which had seen off world champions South Africa in Toulouse a fortnight earlier.
France led early on by a Julien Dupuy penalty, but Ma’a Nonu immediately set up the All Blacks’ opening try for Sitiveni Sivivatu after just six minutes.
Two more Dupuy penalties saw France go back in front but New Zealand again answered with tries from full-back Mils Muliaina and flanker Jerome Kaino and a Dan Carter penalty to lead 22-9 after half-an-hour.
France managed a drop-goal from fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc before half-time but opposite number Carter took charge after the break, kicking another penalty before wing Corey Jane scored a superb chip-and-chase try to take the game out of the reach of Les Bleus.
And ten minutes from time, Conrad Smith slipped over down the blind side for the All Blacks’ fifth try with Carter’s touchline conversion finishing off a New Zealand romp.
ENGLAND 6-19 NEW ZEALAND
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 21st November 2009
NEW ZEALAND turned on the style in the second half at Twickenham to inflict yet another defeat on Martin Johnson's struggling England side.
After losing to Australia and edging past Argentina in unconvincing style, England produced a better performance against a far from full-strength All Blacks side but the home side ell away after the break.
Johnson had demanded a big improvement from his side and although England again lacked invention and creativity, they made a good fist of the first half to go in at the interval with the contest all-square at 6-6.
Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter, who became the game’s record points-scorer in Test rugby, landed two penalties apiece before the break as England matched their illustrious opponents in every department.
Indeed, the closest New Zealand came to claiming a try in the first half came when Mils Muliaina was shovelled into touch by the combined defensive efforts of England full-back Mark Cueto and wing Ugo Monye before he could ground the ball.
But the All Blacks upped the tempo at the start of the second half and Carter, who had been surprisingly wayward before the break, kicked a penalty to give the visitors a 9-6 lead.
And the All Blacks made the vital break in the 56th minute when they worked the ball wide and recalled wing Sitiveni Sivivatu fed skipper Richie McCaw and he put scrum-half Jimmy Cowan over in the corner.
Carter converted to make it 16-6 and his late penalty with 13 minutes to go proved enough to condemn England to a second defeat in their three Autumn Test outings.
WALES 33-16 ARGENTINA
MILLENIUM STADIUM – Saturday, 21st November 2009
WELSH hero Shane Williams lit up the Millennium Stadium with two dazzling tries in a record 33-16 Wales win over Argentina to move two steps closer to becoming only the third player in the game’s history to pass the 50-try mark in Test rugby history.
Williams struck twice in the second half, taking his Welsh international record tally to 48 and, with two Lions tries to his name, his tally in international rugby y to the half-century mark.
There was also a controversial opportunist try for stand-off Stephen Jones, who caught the incensed Pumas napping with a quickly-taken penalty on his way to a 17-point haul, while Cardiff wing Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties.
Centre Martin Rodriguez scored all of Argentina's points through a try, three penalties and a conversion, but the Pumas finished a distant second best.
The South Americans, despite a man-of-the-match display by skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, offered next to nothing in attack with their lone try coming from a charge down when debutant Wales centre Jonathan Davies' attempted clearance kick bounced off Rodriguez's shin and the bounce went his way.
ITALY 10-32 SOUTH AFRICA
STADE FRIULI, UDINE – Saturday 21st November 2009
SOUTH AFRICA, beaten by France in Toulouse, finally got their stuttering autumn international campaign up and running with a workmanlike, four-try, 32-10 victory over Italy the Stadio Friuli in Udine to end their three-match losing streak.
Bryan Habana, Jacque Fourie, Fourie Du Preez and Wynand Olivier touched down for the visitors to make it eight games without defeat against the Azzurri, who notched a lone try from centre Gonzalo Garcia.
The Springboks opened the scoring while Italian flanker Simone Favaro was in the sin bin for a late hit on Du Preez after fly-half Morne Steyn hit the post with the penalty kick, full-back Zane Kirchner mopped up the loose ball and sent Habana over in the corner.
The pair combined again seven minutes later with centre Adi Jacobs to leave Fourie with the easiest of finishes.
Italian fly-half Craig Gower, who had earlier missed a penalty and a drop-goal, then set up his side’s try for Garcia in the 31st minute, adding the conversion after Garcia scored under the posts to make it 12-7 at the interval.
After the break, Steyn whacked over a penalty and the Springboks’ third try came in the 52nd minute when Habana set up Du Preez, who set up Olivier late on a touchdown converted by Ruan Pienaar after Gower had clipped over a penalty for the home side.
SCOTLAND 9-8 AUSTRALIA
MURRAYFIELD – Saturday 21st November 2009
SCOTLAND supporters enjoyed one of the finest episodes in the game’s history north of the Border at Murrayfield, where the Scots chalked up their first win over Australia for 27 years.
In a nail-biting affair, Scotland put on a defensive display of monumental proportions to wreck the Wallabies’ hopes of returning Down Under from their northern hemisphere tour unbeaten.
Australia, who had already beaten England at Twickenham and drawn 20-20 with Ireland in Dublin, dominated possession and territory from start to finish, but the fired-up Scots produced a world-class defensive performance to keep the Wallabies at bay, despite conceding a last-minute try from Ryan Cross.
Australia fly-half Matt Giteau, who had an off day with the boot, missed the relatively simple conversion in the white-hot atmosphere, leaving Scotland to celebrate a world-class backs-to-the-wall performance and a famous victory.
In a painfully tight contest, Scotland led 6-3 late in the second half after fly-half Phil Godman kicked two penalties to Giteau’s one before replacement full-back Chris Paterson’s 75th minute drop goal set up a memorable grandstand finish.
IRELAND 41-6 FIJI
ROYAL DUBLIN SHOWGROUND – Saturday 21st November 2009
DEBUTANT Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton delivered a polished performance at the Royal Dublin Showground to steer Ireland to a thumping 41-6 win over outclassed Fiji.
One of eight changes to the side which drew 20-20 with Australia at Croke Park, 24-year-old Sexton, who kicked Leinster to victory in last season’s Heineken Cup, amassed 16 points in a flawless performance which will make sure Lions outside-half Ronan O’Gara cannot rest on his laurels ahead of the RBS 6 Nations championship early next year.
Sexton and Ireland never looked back after he clipped over a penalty in the tenth minute and he went on add five conversions after Munster wing Keith Earls grabbed a first-half try to ease Ireland into a 10-0 lead.
Fiji fly-half Nicky Little kicked two penalties either side of half-time to keep the islanders in the hunt until Brian O’Driscoll ripped the game away from them with an interception try.
O’Driscoll and centre partner Gordon D’Arcy then put Earls away for his second touchdown just before the hour and tries from full-back Rob Kearney and wing Shane Horgan rubbed salt in the visitors’ wounds in the final quarter.
FRANCE 45-3 SAMOA
STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS – Saturday 21st November 2009
FRANCE, fresh from turning the world champion Springboks over in Toulouse a week earlier, warmed up for their final Autumn Test outing against New Zealand in Marseilles by cantering to a comfortable seven-try 43-5 win over Samoa in the Stade de France.
Marc Lievremont made 12 changes to the side which beat South Africa and Les Blues were on the front foot from the off against a Samoan line-up side showing five changes to the side which had pushed Wales hard in Cardiff.
Stade Francais hooker Dimitri Szarzewski started the rout in the third minute with the opening try with Toulouse wing Vincent Clerc notching the second, both converted by Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra.
By half-time, Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion, club mate and flanker Thierry Dusatoir and Bayonne wing Benjamin Fall, on is Test debut, had all run in tries to give rampant France a 33-0 interval lead.
After the break, France, predictably took the foot off the pedal but they added two unconverted tries, both run in by fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc before the Samoans got on the scoreboard with a consolation try from Iosefa Tekori, who plays his club rugby for French side Castres.
T: Szarzewski, Clerc, Jauzion, Dusatoir, Fall, Trinh-Duc 2
C: Parra 4
WALES 17 - 13 SAMOA
MILLENNIUM STADIUM - Friday 13th November 2009
WALES held on for an unconvincing victory when they edged out battling Samoa 17-13 at the Millennium Stadium where the South Sea islanders, who had only been together for three days prior to the match, gave Warren Gatland‘s side a late scare.
Wales, who had gone down 19-12 to New Zealand six days earlier, went in front when a late tackle saw Samoan full-back Lolo Lui sin-binned with Biggar punishing him to give Wales a 3-0 lead.
Fili cancelled that out inside a minute but Biggar engineered a cross-kick to send Halfpenny over in the corner for an unconverted try and a second Biggar penalty had Wales 11-6 in front at the interval after Fili kicked another three-pointer in the 33rd minute.
Halfpenny landed a long-range penalty early in the second half and Biggar added another three points to make it 17-6 while Samoan number eight Henry Tuilagi was in the sin bin.
But the game was back on a knife edge when London Irish centre Seilala Mapasua picked off a Biggar pass intended for Tom James and raced 80 metres to touch down with Fili converting in the 62nd minute.
But Samoan centre Gavin Thompson missed a chance to cut Wales’ 17-13 lead when he missed a penalty under the posts and the Welsh defence hung on under severe pressure in the closing minutes.
P: Biggar 3, Halfpenny
IRELAND A 48 - 14 TONGA
RAVENHILL - Friday, 13th November
TONGA were overwhelmed by Ireland A at Ravenhill in Belfast, despite scoring three tries in a match which was hanging in the balance with the islanders just 21-14 down at half-time.
Despite conceding a third-minute try from Brett Wilkinson and two Ian Humphries penalties to trail 11-0 to an Irish side boasting eight Test players, Tonga's backs hit back with a converted try from Filimone Lilo.
Ireland then grabbed two more unconverted tries from Darren Cave and Andrew Trimble just before the break.
But centre Alipate Fatafehi put midfield partner Sukanaivalu Hufanga over in the corner to cut the deficit to 21-14 at the interval.
After the break, open-side Neil Best and full-back Gavin Duffy ran in two early tries as Ireland stepped up a gear to make the game safe before Taula grabbed a consolation try for Tonga, but the home side then finished with an intercept try from substitute fly-half Ian Keatley.
T: Cave 2, Wilkinson, Trimble, Best, Duffy, Keatley
P: Humphreys 3
C: Humphreys, Keatley
FRANCE 20 - 13 SOUTH AFRICA
STADE MUNICIPAL, TOULOUSE - Friday, 13th November 2009
FRANCE out-muscled world champions 20-13 in Toulouse to extend their 12-year run of victories over the recently crowned Tri-Nations winners.
The French win and South Africa’s second defeat of 2009 was built on the foundation of a determined effort from the home pack which dominated the set-piece battle and the breakdown.
The Springboks repeatedly paid the price for ill-discipline with fly-half Morne Steyn and back-rower Ryan Kankowski both spending time in the sin-bin with English referee Wayne Barnes repeatedly cracking down on the Springboks’ persistent collapsing of rolling mauls and ruck offences.
Stade Francais scrum-half Julien Dupuy kicked four penalties from six and Clermont’s Morgan Parra, who replaced Dupuy at scrum-half in the second half, notched one penalty with Toulouse wing Vincent Clerc bagging a try for the home side.
ENGLAND 16 - 9 ARGENTINA
TWICKENHAM- Saturday, 14th November 2009
MATT Banahan's third international try ten minutes from time made sure England beat Argentina at Twickwenham to record their sixth win in 13 starts under Martin Johnson, but the Bath wing’s touchdown did little more than paper over the cracks in a lacklustre performance which lacked any adventure or invention.
Johnson made four changes to the side beaten 18-9 by Australia a week earlier but Argentina, despite debutant centre Martin Rodriguez missing three penalties, showed more verve and they finished the match camped on the England line looking for a converted try which would have earned them a thoroughly deserved draw.
Indeed, at the end of the first half England were lucky to be on level terms at 9-9 with the Pumas, despite being without inspirational duo Juan Martin Hernandez and Felipe Contepomi, winning the tactical kicking battle hands down and running the ball with far more purpose Jonny Wilkinson, predictably, came up with all of England's first-half points with a drop-goal and two penalties, while Rodriguez, one of a trio of Argentina Test debutants, kicked three penalties from five attempts.
Early in the second-half, Wilkinson missed a chance to kick the hosts into a three-point lead but they finally got their noses in front when Banahan was put over in the corner by man of the match Lewis Moody.
P: Wilkinson 2
SCOTLAND 23 - 10 FIJI
MURRAYFIELD - Saturday, 14th November
FORMER England coach Andy Robinson started his reign as Scotland boss in style with a 23-10 win over Fiji at Murrayfield, where skipper Chris Cusiter and his side out-thought and outplayed the South Sea islanders.
Cusiter made a telling break into the 22 early on and his offload out of the tackle handed Scotland’s first try to back-rower Jonny Beattie on a plate with fly-half Phil Godman converting.
Godman second penalty of the contest stretched Scotland‘s lead to 13-0 before Fiji hit back with a try from winger Vereniki Goneva, converted by fly-half Nicky Little just before the interval.
But a try from centre Graeme Morrison, who capitalised on a missed forward pass from Rory Lamont, and Godman’s second conversion stretched the Scots into a comfortable lead.
Little clipped over another penalty late in the match to get his side into double figures, but the Fijians ram out of steam late on and Scotland were able run the clock comfortably to seal a valuable win.
T: Beattie, Morrison
C: Godman 2
P: Godman 3
ITALY 6 - 20 NEW ZEALAND
SAN SIRO STADIUM, MILAN - Saturday, 14th November 2009
NEW ZEALAND struggled to a 20-6 win over Italy in a gruelling contest played out in front of a record 80,000 attendance at an Italian rugby international in Milan’s San Siro Stadium.
Italy made a frantic start and were ahead on four minutes after New Zealand collapsed a scrum and former Australian rugby league international Craig Gower knocked over the three points from straight in front of the posts.
The lead lasted only three minutes, though, before Salvatore Perugini was caught offside and Luke McAlister landed two quick-fire penalties to give a largely All Blacks second-string a 6-3 lead after 13 minutes.
Corey Flynn then grabbed the only try of the game for New Zealand in the 25th minute and McAllister landed another penalty to give the All Blacks a 14-3 interval lead.
Three minutes after the break, McAllister kicked another three points after Gonzalo Garcia was penalised, and sin-binned for a spear tackle but Italy almost hit back with a try, which was averted when the All Blacks defence hauled centre Gonzalo Canale inches short of the try-line.
With an hour gone, though, it was 17-6 thanks to another Gower penalty but McAllister clipped over two penalties to make it 23-6 and New Zealand survived a spell of sustained Italian pressure late on to seal their second tour victory.
P: Gower 2
IRELAND 20 - 20 AUSTRALIA
CROKE PARK - Sunday, 15th November 2009
IRISH idol Brian O’Driscoll celebrated his 100th Test appearance with a brilliantly engineered last-gasp try – his 37th in 94 appearances for Ireland – at Croke Park to earn the northern hemisphere champions a 20-20 draw which killed off Australia’s dreams of a European tour Grand Slam.
The Wallabies, who had beaten England with some ease at Twickenham eight days earlier, were on their way to a second successive victory until O’Driscoll, who had gifted the Australian’s their first try with a rare mistake, struck in the final minute.
Two minutes earlier, the Wallabies appeared to have tucked another win in the bank when man of the match open-side David Pocock, scrum-half Will Genia, wing Peter Hynes and replacement full-back James O’Connor held up Irish wing Tommy Bowe, who was denied his second try of an engrossing contest by the TMO.
Australia were given a flying start with a second-minute touchdown from wing Drew Mitchell, who pounced when O’Driscoll failed to hold an ambitious miss-pass from O’Gara on the edge of Ireland’s 22.
Giteau, who also kicked two penalties, landed the conversion but two O’Gara penalties pulled the deficit back before half-time, which arrived with Australia 10-6 to the good – a lead he extended that to 13-6 early in the second half.
Ireland responded in the 56th minute with a converted try from Bowe but when Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom crashed over in the corner with Giteau adding the extras, Australia looked to be in the driving seat with a 20-13 lead until O’Driscoll made amends for his early mistake in dramatic style.
T: Bowe, O’Driscoll
C: O’Gara 2
P: O’Gara 2
ENGLAND 9 – 18 AUSTRALIA
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 7th November 2009
TALISMANIC 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson’s return to the England ranks was not enough to stop England sliding to a 9-18 home defeat by Australia, who retained the Cook Cup at Twickenham in the first match of the Wallabies’ Grand Slam tour of the Northern Hemisphere.
Wilkinson, now 30 and playing his club rugby in France with Toulon, landed a trademark drop-goal within minutes of his international return, and two further penalties from his left boot had England 9-8 up at half-time.
But Australia, who had scored the opening half’s only try through 21-year-old scrum-half Will Genia, took control of the match after the interval to emerge as the deserving winners after full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper’s late score sealed only their second victory in six Test match outings.
“Overall they deserved to win, but there were chances for us to do a bit more,” admitted disappointed England boss Martin Johnson. “We started very well but lost a bit of control near half-time.
“The team was only playing its first game and at times we needed to be a little bit slicker, but we’ll be better for it physically and mentally when we play Argentina.”
Johnson reserved special praise for Wilkinson and fellow World Cup winner Lewis Moody for their performances on their England recalls.
But he added: “In the second half Australia dominated to such an extent they were going to score points – eventually penalties or tries are going to get us.
“We kicked away too much ball, which gave it back to them a little bit too easily.
“I told the guys we were playing a battle-hardened team coming straight out of the All Blacks game and a Tri-Nations series and that, in the end, probably showed.
“The southern hemisphere teams have proved pretty difficult to beat throughout the history of the game. It’s not a modern thing - beating them is always pretty tricky.”
Wilkinson, who was winning his 71st cap, echoed Johnson’s observations.
“The Australians have played a lot of Test matches recently and they’ve been through a lot together,” he said.
“This is our first one of the season and we needed a marker to find out where we need to go next.
“We’re disappointed about some things, but some things went well.”
WALES 19 – 12 NEW ZEALAND
MILLENNIUM STADIUM – Saturday, 7th October 2009
New Zealand repelled a late fight-back from spirited Wales in the Millennium Stadium to run out 19-12, putting an end to Welsh hopes of a first win over the All Blacks since 1953.
The match ended on a controversial note when Dan Carter, who was cited post-match, hauled Wales’ replacement scrum-half Martin Roberts down with an allegedly high tackle which incensed the home fans after Shane Williams sparked a late break from the hosts in the last ten minutes.
Lock Alun Wyn Jones then galloped into empty territory with the crowd roaring him on after intercepting a pass from the All Black’s replacement scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, but the late try-scoring chance came to nothing.
Two late penalties by Lions fly-half Stephen Jones, who finished with all 12 Welsh points to his name, had narrowed the gap but the final score was a fair reflection of the match, although Wales coach Warren Gatland was unhappy that Carter, who kicked a conversion and three penalties, escaped punishment for his tackle on Roberts.
"It was a hard, high tackle and a swinging arm. It should have been three points and a yellow card," said Gatland with number 2 Shaun Edwards adamant that New Zealand should have finished the match with Carter in the sin bin.
Carter, who passed a late fitness test on his injured calf, called the shots for the All Blacks throughout, bombing the Wales back three with high kicks throughout a first half which ended all-square at 6-6.
After the break, Cowan replaced Brendon Leonard at scrum-half and the All Blacks stepped up two gears to notch a try from hooker Andrew Hore and they saw a claimed touchdown from centre Conrad Smith chalked off by the TMO midway through the second half.
"That would have opened up a gap at a crucial stage in the match and that was a wee bit disappointing," said All Blacks head coach Graham Henry after seeing his side chalk up their 21st win on the bounce over Wales.
P: S Jones 4
P: Carter 4