Fresh off a stirring performance against the All Blacks at their much-vaunted Eden Park, Australia’s preparations are well underway for Saturday’s crucial Second Test.
Despite having their lean streak extended by another game at New Zealand rugby’s spiritual home, Dave Rennie’s side will be buoyed by a strong finish to an entertaining opening clash.
After trailing 33-8 midway through the second half, the Wallabies regrouped to score the game’s final 17 points, including a last second try from Victorian product, Jordan Uelese.
Uelese was one of five Melbourne Rebels who impressed in the lively affair, joining Reece Hodge, Matt Philip, and Matt To’omua, who all made an impact late.
Winger, Andrew Kellaway, starred in his Wallabies’ starting debut, using his well-known pace to pierce through the All Black’s stifling defence and run through his side’s opening try.
Kellaway’s international ambitions once seemed to be on tenterhooks when he was forced to relocate overseas for greater playing opportunities, but Saturday’s performance in the Australian gold, confirmed the former childhood prodigy had finally claimed his place among Australian rugby’s elite.
The twenty-five-year-old said despite the unconventional path taken, he always believed he was talented enough to perform on the international stage, if provided the opportunity.
“In the back of my head I always thought, in my own strange, twisted way, that I was good enough to be a Wallaby. Coming home was as much about proving it to myself as it was everybody else,” Kellaway said.
Kellaway believes his journey to the Wallabies starting line-up will help blaze the trail for future players competing abroad to one day return to Australia.
“If you grow up and play rugby, you want to be a Wallaby. If anyone says otherwise, I don’t want to call them a liar, but they’re not far off.”
“A lot of this now is proving to guys that if you are overseas, you can come home and there’s a place for you because we want them back in Australia.”
Jordan Uelese, Matt To’omua, and Reece Hodge also featured off the bench for the Wallabies, and all played integral roles in the late comeback as they attempted to steal the victory.
Another Melbourne Rebel who was integral to Australia’s rousing comeback was Eltham and Northern Panthers’ star, Jordan Uelese.
Despite coming on in the 70th minute, Uelese ignited his side with a pulsating finish to the clash, providing laser sharp accuracy at the lineouts, and running over his side’s final try of the night, courtesy of a well-executed driving maul.
The proud Victorian said he was enjoying the importance of bringing late game intensity off the bench.
“Our jobs as finishers off the bench is to add a point of difference and add that bit of impact,” said Uelese.
“ We have the ability and the manpower from one to twenty-three, to do the job and play to the final minute.
“We put great trust into our finishers to go out there and do a job, and every opportunity you get to play for your country, you want to put your best foot forward.
“We’re really pleased, but we’ve still got a job to do and won’t be happy until we’ve got that win, so we’re really looking forward to this weekend.”
The Wallabies face the All Blacks in the Second Test of the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday, August 14. Kick-off is at 5:15 PM AEST, with the clash to be shown live on 9 GEM, and live, on-demand and ad-free on Stan Sports.