Humble Hodge relieved 53m penalty goal went over
HUMBLE Wallabies hero Reece Hodge felt he was well overdue to land one of his monster penalty strikes. What a moment to deliver a dagger from 53m to sink the All Blacks.
The power behind Hodge's goalkicking always astounds even when you watch him weekly banging away with long range attempts at practice like golf's world No.1 Dustin Johnson on the driving range.
In Saturday night's climax, the value of his towering penalty goal from beyond halfway with just under four minutes to play was immense to seal the 23-18 boilover at Suncorp Stadium.
It ate up two minutes of time and it forced the All Blacks to throw everything at a late try because they were no longer close enough to snatch it with a penalty goal.
Hodge had earlier nailed another, an angled 37m shot, midway through the second half to build the pressure on the Kiwis.
"It was pleasing for one to finally go over. I probably haven't held up own (by not) kicking the long range ones over the past 12 months," Hodge said.
Hodge is a hard marker and he wants to be because even with the fanfare around his 55m beauty in Wellington last year he'd landed just two-from-10 shots over his Test career.
Hodge only takes the long range, lower percentage shots.
"Yeah, they are but that's what you practice for to make them high percentage shots," Hodge said.
Bernard Foley had landed just one-from-four with the boot when the angled opportunity arrived just after the hour mark.
Skipper Michael Hooper described Hodge as coming in off his wing and really wanting to take that kick which can still fit with Hodge's account.
"I was actually on the far wing, they pointed to the posts and I came over. Nardy (Foley) told me to take it."
Hodge's 75m intercept try and his two kicks painted him as a key figure but Hodge was more interested in the team gains.
"Over the 12 weeks since June we've been trying to build," he said.
"We've got that end goal of being No.1 in the world down the track and we're doing everything we can each week to get close to that goal.
"This is one win and you've got to remember that. We did lose the Bledisloe Cup and that's our goal for next year."
Had the Wallabies tapped into any closely-guarded secrets to pressure the All Blacks?.
"I wouldn't say we've cracked the code. It's one win," Hodge said.
"What it is, is great for the belief and a real tick for our defensive system because they were throwing everything they had at us in the final few minutes."