Bulls

Australia defeats All Blacks for Rugby Championship

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Australia defeats All Blacks for Rugby Championship

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."

[Click Here: Get tickets now for U.S.A. Eagles vs. Quantas Wallabies at Soldier Field]

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. 

Bulls Talk Podcast: White shines in preseason finale vs Hawks

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Talk Podcast: White shines in preseason finale vs Hawks

On this edition of Bulls Outsiders, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and Dave Watson react to the Bulls preseason finale, a 111-93 win over the Hawks.

0:25 - Young Hawks vs young Bulls and increased expectations for Bulls

1:35 - On the Bulls bench performance

2:10 - On Coby White’s 29 point effort

4:00 - On White and Dunn together on the 2nd unit

6:25 - On Denzel Valentine not being part of the rotation

7:20 - Viewer comment on Dunn playing the Marcus Smart role

7:45 - Question on if White will eventually start, impact of Satoransky on LaVine

9:22 - What’s White’s best role?

10:00 - The Outsiders on talking hoops with Jim Boylen

11:05 - Small concerns over Markkanen’s preseason

12:33 - More viewer comments including where Hutchison fits when healthy

15:25 - is Matt on the Big Red Bus? (tm See Red Fred)

16:40 - Viewer question about Coby leading the team in scoring; why LaVine is the star

19:35 - The LaVine midrange ‘controversy’

21:35 - Viewer question on best case scenario for Bulls win total

23:30 - See Red Fred repeats his mantra

26:20 - Excitement for the season opener

27:00 - On Luol Deng retiring as a Bull

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls have makings of a real team as game week begins

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USA TODAY

Bulls have makings of a real team as game week begins

The next time the Bulls take the floor – Wednesday night in Charlotte – they’ll be playing for keeps, looking to make good on their verbalized goal of making the postseason for the first time in three seasons. They’re lofty goals for a team that won just 22 games a season ago, but they put the finishing touches on a promising preseason in their 111-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that has them feeling confident in what’s ahead.

True, it came against a Hawks team playing a rare back-to-back (with both games on the road) and one that was resting John Collins, but the Bulls once again shared the ball, played with urgency and continued their 2019 style in a game they led the final 38 minutes.

Coach Jim Boylen treated the game as a dress rehearsal for the season opener against the Hornets in six days, solidifying his 10-man rotation and getting significant contributions from both units. With star power in Zach LaVine and (hopefully) Lauri Markkanen, a supporting cast that’s buying in and a few promising youngsters, the next stage of the Bulls rebuild is shaping up nicely.

“I thought each guy had moments,” Boylen said after the game. “I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to the open people or the hot man…That’s what good teams do. They find the guy that’s got it rolling. They keep it rolling as long as they can. And then we pick each other up when maybe a group or section of the game where we’re struggling. I’m happy for that.”

It once again began with Zach LaVine, who finished a terrific preseason with 23 points on 11 shots in just 25 minutes. He was a model of efficiency – he didn’t attempt a midrange shot – and finished his four-game preseason stretch with 93 points in 96 minutes, shooting 32 of 54 (59.2%) and making 14 of 25 3-point attempts (56.0%). Every completed rebuild needs a player like how LaVine is playing right now. It should be an All-Star season for the 25-year-old.

Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter were quiet in the preseason but there’s not much to read in to about their performances. Wendell Carter Jr. shook off a couple injury scares and put together his best performance of his limited preseason, finishing with 8 points and 8 rebounds and drawing some praise from Boylen for his off-ball intangibles. He should be full-go in five days when the Bulls begin playing for keeps.

Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky did exactly what they’ve done their entire careers: They were quiet but effective, with the latter forming a solid tandem with any frontcourt player he appeared with, and the latter grabbing the starting point-guard reins.

The second unit remains a question mark, but it will enter the regular season with some serious momentum. Despite being officially demoted to the second unit just days earlier, Kris Dunn again drew praise from Boylen for his effort and energy that sparked the Bulls in the second quarter.

“I thought Kris Dunn’s energy off the bench changed the game,” Boylen said. “He got us going. His effort, his energy, his focus was great. Some nights we’re gonna be in mud, we’re gonna be a little sluggish. And he’s been practicing really hard and I was really proud of what he did in that moment to kind of get us going. I’m happy for him.”

Dunn may be able to stay on the floor thanks to the scoring prowess that rookie Coby White is showing. The seventh overall pick scored a game-high 29 points and made 6 of 8 3-pointers. That 3-for-30 effort in the Las Vegas Summer League feels like forever ago, and for a bench that lacks much scoring, White’s ability to do just that becomes even more significant. His last three preseason games: 23.6 points in 25.3 minutes. He had just one assist, but the Bulls will take that scoring and shooting right now.

Boylen called his stretch of triples in the third quarter “as good as we’ve seen in this building in a while.”

Luke Kornet has won the backup job over Daniel Gafford, while Ryan Arcidiacono (and presumably Chandler Hutchison when he returns from a hamstring injury) is ahead of Denzel Valentine, who Boylen said needs to “stay ready” despite not being in the 10-man rotation. The bench is the Bulls’ weakest spot, but even Boylen admitted they’re starting to get a little rhythm together.

The caveat, of course, is that it was just preseason. Everything changes when the games start counting. On the one hand, the Bulls’ first five opponents include one projected playoff team (Toronto), On the other hand, four of those first five games are on the road. What worked in preseason isn’t guaranteed to work in the regular season. But for what the Bulls could have proved in the preseason – that they’re forming a team with specific roles and players buying into them – they did to a T, and it should make for a promising Year 3 of a rebuild.

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