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Australia and Argentina may have been the stars of the competition’s final clash, but it was still New Zealand that ultimately came out on top.
The All Blacks are officially the Tri-Nations champions.
Victory for New Zealand was all but guaranteed going into the competition’s final match on Saturday night, where Australia faced Argentina in Sydney.
To finish higher than the All Blacks, the Pumas needed to win by at least 93 points with a bonus point.
For the Wallabies, they needed to win by at least 101 points with a bonus point to keep NZ from the title.
That was a tall order for both sides, and they both fell short.
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Australia and Argentina’s 16-16 draw was secured after fullback Reece Hodge missed with a long-range last-minute penalty goal attempt for the second time in two weeks.
When the final hooter blew, NZ’s Tri-Nations win was confirmed.
Hodge also had the chance to boot Australia to victory with three minutes to go in its 15-15 draw with the Pumas two weeks ago in Newcastle.
He also struck the uprights with an after-the-siren shot in the Wallabies’ season-opening 16-16 stalemate with the All Blacks in Wellington in October.
Hodge had earlier slotted three penalty goals on Saturday.
Argentina came into the match as underdogs after being beaten 38-0 by the Tri-Nations champion All Blacks and then having inspirational skipper Pablo Matera and two teammates stood down for disciplinary reasons.
Michael Hooper, in his last test as captain before taking a year-long sabbatical in Japan, was yellow carded in the first half for a no-arms tackle.
His replacement, forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, was sent off for making dangerous contact to Santiago Grondona’s head at the 60-minute mark.
– Stuff and AP