Eden Hazard

Much has been made of ‘fortress Eden Park’ in the media and indeed, in this blog.

The record is formidable – they’ve won the last 38 games and it is 23 years since they lost there.

But they haven’t all been runaway victories and this will be some comfort for the deciding test on Saturday.

New Zealand 20-15 England (June 7, 2014)

Fresh from sealing a dramatic 22-24 victory in Ireland to end the 2013 campaign with a flawless 14 wins, the All Blacks entered the 2014 season on a high. Keen to carry on from where they had left off, the world champions welcomed England to Auckland for the first of their three-match Test series.

Injury and scheduling problems, due to the close proximity of the Aviva Premiership final between Saracens and Northampton, left Stuart Lancaster with little option but to name an untried starting XV. Yet, for all their inexperience, England came agonisingly close to halting New Zealand’s 30-game winning run on home soil as four penalties from stand-in fly-half Freddie Burns, and another from substitute Danny Cipriani while wing Marland Yarde was in the sin bin, moved the tourists to within minutes of an unlikely 15-15 draw.

But having kicked all 15 points for the hosts, Aaron Cruden settled the contest with a quick-tap penalty, releasing Conrad Smith into the corner for the match-winning score.

England would go on to push the All Blacks even further, losing 28-27 in the second Test in Dunedin, before the world champions showed their class in the third Test, romping to a 36-13 victory in Hamilton to seal a series whitewash.

New Zealand 8-7 France (Oct 23, 2011)

Twenty-four years on from victory in their first, and at the time only, triumph on the world stage, the conclusion of the second World Cup in New Zealand presented the All Blacks with the chance to emulate the heroes of 1987.

However, with France’s unforgettable 2007 quarter-final victory etched firmly in the memory, Marc Lievremont’s men travelled to Auckland looking to extend the hosts’ recent World Cup heartache.

Tony Woodcock’s early unconverted try handed the hosts a slender half-time lead before a penalty from fourth-choice fly-half Stephen Donald moved the hosts two scores clear.

But with glory beckoning, the All Blacks’ World Cup woes looked to be taking a turn for the worse when Thierry Dusautoir crossed over and Francois Trinh-Duc slotted the extras to move France within a point.

A tense finale ensued as Les Tricolores threatened to eclipse their historic victory at Eden Park 17 years prior with an unthinkable upset, Trinh-Duc dragging a penalty wide with 16 minutes on the clock.

But once a late French surge had been halted 10 meters into opposition territory, the All Blacks regrouped, running down the clock to clinch their second world title.

 

New Zealand 22-16 Australia (July 18, 2009)

New Zealand’s Tri Nations defence in 2009 got off to the shakiest possible start as their imperious records – both outright and against the Australia – at Eden Park were plunged into danger.

The All Blacks hadn’t lost at their Auckland fortress since July 1994 but they were in the midst of an even greater run against the Aussies, with their fierce rivals pursuing a first win at the stadium since 1986.

The Wallabies raced into a 13-3 lead thanks to Berrick Barnes’ third-minute try and the precision of Matt Giteau from the tee. Richie McCaw then bundled his way over for a converted try in response, reducing the visitors’ lead to three at half-time.

From there on the All Blacks’ pack followed their captain’s lead, winning the physical battle up top to present fly-half Donald with the opportunity to slot four penalties as the Eden Park record lived to fight another day.

New Zealand 21-17 Australia (Aug 16, 2003)

The early 2000s were not a happy time for the All Blacks in comparison with their current record.

The first two Tri Nations competitions of the millennium were won by Australia, and by the time the 2003 season rolled around, the Wallabies had held Bledisloe Cup bragging rights for five years.

The teams met three times in the 2003 Tri Nations, and the Eden Park clash was the decider.

Two tries from winger Doug Howlett gave the All Blacks a 15-9 lead at half-time, with Carlos Spencer converting one try and adding a penalty in reply to three shots at goal from Elton Flatley.

The Wallabies then came back after the break, George Smith scoring in the corner to set up a nail-biting finish after the kickers had added more points from the tee. However, two lineout steals from Reuben Thorne ensured the All Blacks were able to hang on in the end.

New Zealand won the game, the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri Nations title, but the Wallabies claimed revenge two months later with a win in the semi-final of the World Cup.

New Zealand 18-18 South Africa (Aug 6, 1994)

In August 1994, New Zealand faced the team that would go on to beat them in the World Cup final some eight months later, and just as was the case in the 1995 showpiece, the two teams could not be separated at full time.

Two penalties from Shane Howarth put the All Blacks into a 6-0 lead after ten minutes, but the Boks hit back with a try shortly thereafter; Gavin Johnson took a pass from fellow winger Chester Williams to score in the corner, and the conversion took the Boks to a one-point lead.

The visitors then extended the lead when former Saracens coach Brendan Venter crossed for a try.

The kickers traded penalties thereafter, with Howarth’s sixth penalty drawing the All Blacks level with the Boks. The home side had a chance to seal a dramatic late draw, but replacement Michael Jones was halted just in front of the line by Williams as the All Blacks started their unbeaten run at Eden Park.

It will still be a major task to end the winning streak at Eden Park – but then the Lions stopped the winning streak in Wellington last week.

And the All Blacks winning streak as of today is zero!

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