SYDNEY (AP) — Australia won its first Rugby Championship in four years after a 27-19 victory over New Zealand at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Nic White made a stunning contribution from the bench, scoring a late try and kicking a 47-meter penalty goal to lift the Wallabies to a morale-boosting victory against the world's top-ranked team less than six weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup.
"The reality is that we've only won one game against New Zealand in a long time," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said. "Consistency is key and we have to go out there and prepare each day to be competitive again with the No. 1 team in the world on their own patch. That's our target."
[Rugby is coming to Chicago: Australia faces the U.S. at Soldier Field on Sept. 5]
The teams meet again in Auckland next weekend — outside the Rugby Championship but for the Bledisloe Cup —in their last major match ahead of the World Cup.
Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu also scored for the Wallabies while Nehe Milner-Skudder scored two tries on debut.
Veteran All Black flyhalf Dan Carter kicked nine points to become the first player to pass 1,500 test points.
After New Zealand led 6-3 in a first-half punctuated with errors and a yellow card to Wallabies prop Kepu, the match burst to life in the second half with five tries and a further two yellow cards.
Kepu received a yellow card in only the 8th minute for being offside after scrumhalf Aaron Smith took a quick tap from a penalty close to the goal-line.
Carter kicked the resulting penalty for an early 3-0 lead to the All Blacks.
The Wallabies struggled for momentum during much of the first half, but found themselves in a good attacking position as it repeatedly dominated the scrum and led to Matt Giteau leveling the scores in the 27th minute.
"We've been working hard (at the scrum), it's just another step along the way," captain Stephen Moore said. "We've just got to keep practising more because, if we are not improving next week, it could go against us because that's how slim the margins are."
The All Blacks responded immediately with Carter scoring a long-range penalty after a Wallabies infringement from the restart to regain the lead, 6-3, which it held to halftime.
At the start of the second half, Smith caught Ashley-Cooper high on the neck to receive the second yellow card of the night.
The Wallabies took immediate advantage with Kepu shrugging off Kieran Read's poor attempted tackle to score under the posts. Giteau converted for a 10-6 lead.
Carter, playing his 105th test, became the first player to pass 1,500 test points when he successfully kicked a 51st-minute penalty to narrow the deficit to 10-9.
Nick Phipps gave the trailing All Blacks a boost when he blatantly pulled back Conrad Smith whilst in an offside position to earn the Wallabies' second yellow card of the game in the 54th.
The world champions wasted little time making the extra-man advantage count when Carter played Ben Smith into space and the fullback passed wide to Milner-Skudder for the winger to score on debut.
Replacement flyhalf Matt Toomua produced the best moment of the match when his perfectly weighted kick found Ashley-Cooper, who held off a strong tackle by fullback Ben Smith to score in the corner.
Giteau converted from the sideline as the Wallabies again led 17-14.
Milner-Skudder scored his second try after the television referee ruled that the winger had managed to ground the ball on the goal-line despite the attention of four Wallabies defenders, to give the visitors a 19-17 lead.
"He brought what he's brought to the Super (Rugby) competition to the test arena," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said. "He's exciting, he's confident and he's impressed us with how quickly he's taken things on board."
White entered the match in the 65th minute and four minutes later kicked a penalty from 47 metres to regain the lead for the Wallabies at 20-19.
White's match-winning impact came three minutes later when he darted over from close range to the delight of the 73,824 crowd. The scrumhalf converted the try to give the Wallabies a 27-19 lead, which they closed out for its first tournament success since 2011.
"We've spoke about our finishers and Nic White was given more time tonight based on his performances in training and he wanted to take that opportunity," Cheika said. "He put his hand up to take a long-range penalty, he had good distribution, good service and also scored a try.
"And that's what I want, I want guys to put their hands up and say 'I want to be part of this.'"
The result spoiled New Zealand captain Richie McCaw's 141st test, tying the world record of Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll.