Perth, Australia (AP) — Australia took advantage of a 14-man All Blacks side for the entire second half to beat New Zealand 47-26 in a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match before a sellout crowd of more than 61,200 on Saturday.
All Blacks lock Scott Barrett was given a controversial red card in the 40th minute for a shoulder charge on Australia captain Michael Hooper.
James O’Connor, making his first test start in six years for Australia after a series of off-field indiscretions which saw him fall out of favor with selectors, played strongly at inside center. He set up the opening try to Reece Hodge, Hodge’s first of two in the match.
It was the largest points total for Australia in a game against New Zealand.
The Wallabies will have a chance to clinch the Bledisloe Cup series next Saturday at Auckland’s Eden Park, where Australia has not won a match since 1986. New Zealand has held the trophy since 2002.
With the loss, the All Blacks could surrender their No 1. ranking to Wales for the first time since 2009 should the Welsh beat England later this weekend.
Barrett was sent off by French referee Jerome Garces for making contact with Hooper’s head with his elbow and shoulder. While it was a tough call, Australia already had already dominated the first half and took a 16-12 lead into the break.
The Wallabies extended the margin to 26-12 early in the second half with flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scoring before Samu Kerevi set up the second. The bustling center ran over the top of star All Blacks fullback Beauden Barrett before offloading to Nic White.
Beauden Barrett had some revenge six minutes later when he darted through flimsy Wallabies defense, with the conversion closing the gap to seven points. But that was as close as the undermanned Kiwis could get as the scoreboard ticked over for Australia.
Fullback Kurtley Beale clinched the win with Australia’s sixth try in the 80th minute.
Hooper said the result was “a nice little hit for our confidence.”
“I’m very proud of the build-up, I thought we were quite disciplined, even when they were a man down,” he said. “But the job is only half-done.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he expects a better performance from his team next week.
“We were not defending well, but the simple fact is we only had 14 guys on the park,” Hansen said. “As you know, a lot can change in seven days.”