Malakai Fekitoa scored a try on the full-time hooter as the All Blacks beat the Wallabies 29-28 in the third Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
For 79 minutes it looked as if Australia would record a first win against their trans-Tasman rivals in three years and put two weeks of off-field drama behind them.
But the world champions launched one final attack and, with the referee playing a penalty advantage, went wide to Fekitoa, who broke through the defence. Colin Slade, who had failed to find touch with a penalty a minute earlier, made amends by kicking the conversion that prevented the All Blacks from losing back-to-back Tests for the first time since 2011.
This match was a great spectacle despite being a dead rubber.
The Wallabies opened the scoring with a confidence-boosting try in the 12th minute. A good break by Christian Leali'ifano, who got past Fekitoa, helped take play 60m into the red zone, with Nick Phipps then sniping over from a ruck.
But Australia undid all that good work when they failed to control the restart and Conrad Smith carried the ball into the 22. The Wallabies then went wide to Kieran Read whose offload in the tackle saw Cory Jane score in the right-hand corner just before going into touch.
The All Blacks dominated the scrums early on, with James Slipper being penalised twice, but the Wallabies did well on the ground, forcing two turnovers when New Zealand were within striking distance.
The Wallabies also conceded a turnover when they were on the attack, to Richie McCaw, but it didn't cost them as Fekitoa knocked on when the All Blacks had a three-on-one overlap out wide.
Bernard Foley's first penalty put the hosts back in front 10-7, but they again lost possession from the restart and this time Dane Coles scored an unconverted try.
But the Wallabies finished the first half strongly when, after Michael Hooper had been tackled just short of the line, Foley picked up the ball, went blind, and dived over in the left-hand corner. The flyhalf's conversion attempt went wide but at 15-12 his side was looking good.
They were looking even better when a knock-on from Wyatt Crockett early in the second half was followed by a Wallabies attack that involved Tevita Kuridrani and Israel Folau, and a try for Test centurion Adam Ashley-Cooper in the right-hand corner. This time Foley nailed the touchline conversion.
Beauden Barrett and Foley exchanged penalties to make it 25-15, before Patrick Tuipulotu was sin-binned for tackling Rob Simmons in the air at the restart. But the All Blacks were able to score a try with 14 men, just before Tuipulotu returned to the field, when Aaron Smith took a quick penalty tap and caught the Australian defence napping.
The Wallabies went six points in front thanks to a long-range penalty from Nic White, but just couldn't keep the All Blacks out at the death.
Wallabies – Tries: Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley, Nic White.
All Blacks – Tries: Cory Jane, Dane Coles, Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2), Colin Slade. Penalty: Barrett.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Nic White, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Rob Horne.
All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charles Piutau.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images