Friday 24 November 2017 / 05:17 AM

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: BUNCE’S BUZZER-BEATER IN FIRST SUNCORP TEST

Yesterday we marked 25 years since Australia’s momentous Bledisloe Cup-clinching victory over New Zealand in Brisbane in 1992 – the Wallabies first win over the All Blacks in the city for 63 years.

With this weekend’s trans-Tasman showdown looming large, Flashback Friday is reliving the next occasion the archrivals met in Brisbane – and their first clash at rugby league’s spiritual home, Suncorp Stadium, which has since become a permanent rugby union Test venue.

The Wallabies were obliterated 43-6 in Wellington in the opening match of the 1996 Tri-Nations, arguably the most one-sided Test ever played between the nations. But the green-and-golds recovered sufficiently to play their part in one of the all-time great Tests just three weeks later.

The match started in explosive fashion, Australian forward Michael Brial infamously unleashing a flurry of right hands on an unsuspecting Frank Bunce in just the sixth minute, yet somehow managing to avoid being sent off.

But Ben Tune set up a brilliant try for George Gregan to open the Wallabies’ account in the 12th minute, while a stunning long-range solo effort from Matt Burke saw the hosts go into the break 16-9 in front of the try-less All Blacks.

The Wallabies led 25-15 as Burke and Andrew Mehrtens continued to trade penalties, but a sneaky blindside try to Justin Marshall put the All Blacks back on the front foot. Merhtens then buried a 77th-minute penalty from halfway to level the scores.

As the equal-highest draw in Test history seemed likely, a dazzling backline move saw Mehrtens slice through and link with fullback Christian Cullen, who was dragged done a couple of metres short of the Wallabies’ line.

Bunce was first on the scene and plunged over for an unforgettable buzzer-beater and a 32-25 triumph.

The All Blacks boast four wins and a draw in six visits to Suncorp Stadium.

[YouTube – john smith]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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