The Wallabies celebrate their 1986 Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks.
The Wallabies celebrate their 1986 Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks.

Amateurs professionally took All Blacks apart

WHEN the Wallabies last defeated the All Blacks at Auckland's Eden Park, they were not paid to play, wore no advertising on their gold jerseys, travelled across the Tasman in economy-class seats and the team's support staff numbered just four.

That's how it was in September 1986. A month shy of 32 years ago.

While times have changed - the Wallabies these days are paid well, travel in business-class comfort, attract a galaxy of sponsors and have a bevy of support staff - the scoreboard sadly has.

In the subsequent 17 encounters at the "new" Eden Park - the old grandstands back in 1986 have long been replaced - the Wallabies remain winless.

In that time, the men proudly wearing the silver fern on their black jerseys have piled on a total of 496 points to Australia's 232 - more than twice the margin.

Back in 1986, the Wallabies coach Alan Jones blooded two youngsters in his team, whose foundation stones were provided by 11 members of his all-conquering Grand Slam victors two years earlier: Parramatta fullback Andrew Leeds, then 21, and Gordon front-rower Mark Hartill, then 22.

Both are now in their mid-50s.

Australia's skipper that day, the Queensland outside centre Andrew Slack, will turn 63 next month.

The 22-9 victory at Eden Park on September 6, 1986, is remembered as one of the high points of Australian rugby, as it also secured the first Bledisloe Cup victory on New Zealand soil since Trevor Allan's Wallabies back in 1949.

Having won the opening international at Wellington 13-12, the Wallabies, in fact, should have lifted the silverware after the second Test at Dunedin, their hopes ruined by a refereeing blunder by Welshman Derek Bevan that  enabled the All Blacks to keep the series alive by the same margin (13-12).

Following the game, All Blacks skipper David Kirk made it perfectly clear that Bevan had erred in disallowing a try by Wallabies No. 8 Steve Tuynman that would have delivered victory.

The next day fired-up coach Jones assembled his 30-man touring group, and with the deciding Test only two weeks away, challenged them to arrive at Eden Park with a clean sheet, the perfect aperitif for the big day.

Andrew Leeds was called into the Wallabies line-up for the Auckland Test in 1986.
Andrew Leeds was called into the Wallabies line-up for the Auckland Test in 1986.

The tourists duly swept aside Southland 55-0, Bay of Plenty 41-13 and Thames Valley 31-7 en route to Auckland, the latter a torrid game just five days before the decider.

Making his Test debut, young Leeds will surely never forget the day. From a brilliant Steve "Skylab" Cutler lineout win and some dazzling Brett Papworth footwork, Leeds relied on his great strength to plunge over for a first half try.

Five-eighth Michael Lynagh's conversion and his two penalty goals gave Australia a 12-6 cushion at the break.

In the final minutes before halt-time, strongman Enrique "Topo" Rodriguez stood out with a driving tackle on All Blacks hooker Hida Reid - part of rugby folklore.

Brett Papworth leaves the All Blacks defence in his wake in 1986.
Brett Papworth leaves the All Blacks defence in his wake in 1986.

The electrifying David Campese drove the final nail into the All Blacks' coffin closing in on full-time with one of his classic touchdowns, and two more Lynagh penalties pushed the Wallabies safely into the clear and into the record books.

It's rare for an All Blacks team not to score a try in a Test match, but that's what happened that day at Eden Park, with fullback Kieran Crowley's three penalty goals the only entries on the home score sheet.

THE TEAMS

Australia: Andrew Leeds, David Campese, Andrew Slack [c], Brett Papworth, Matthew Burke, Michael Lynagh, Nick Farr-Jones, Steve Tuynman, Simon Poidevin, Jeff Miller, Steve Cutler, Bill Campbell, Enrique Rodriguez, Tom Lawton, Mark Hartill

New Zealand: Kieran Crowley, John Kirwan, Joe Stanley, Arthur Stone, Craig Green, Frano Botica, David Kirk [c], Mike Brewer, Jock Hobbs, Mark Shaw, Gary Whetton, Murray Pierce, Gary Knight, Hika Reid, Steve McDowall.

Referee: Brian Anderson (Scotland)

Australia 22 (A Leeds, D Campese tries; M Lynagh 4 pen. goals, goal) d New Zealand 9 (K Crowley 3 pen goals).

*John Fordham called the three Test matches in New Zealand in 1986 for Radio 2UE

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