Australia 22 New Zealand 23
Two converted tries in the final 13 minutes saw New Zealand complete their perfect Tri Nations campaign with a thrilling victory over Australia at ANZ Stadium.
The Wallabies led by eight points at the break and looked on track to end their nine-match losing run against the Kiwis, but once again Robbie Deans’ men were unable to hold off the fast-finishing visitors.
Converted tries to skipper Richie McCaw (67th minute) and Kieran Read (73rd) proved the difference between the two sides as the New Zealanders sealed a record 10th consecutive triumph over the Australians.
The Wallabies had their chances in the dying moments, winning a penalty after a David Pocock turnover, but were unable to pull the game out of the fire for the second straight week as the All Blacks diffused a final desperate raid to complete their perfect season.
Goal-kicking proved crucial in the end with Matt Giteau kicking three from seven while Piri Weepu landed a perfect five from five with the boot including three penalties and two conversions.
It was a fitting end to McCaw’s record 52nd Test as skipper, as the 29-year-old moved past Sean Fitzpatrick’s record for most matches at the helm in All Blacks history, while the Wallabies were left to lament another lost lead.
The All Blacks took the early lead via a Weepu penalty goal in the third minute but the first genuine attacking opportunity fell to the hosts on six minutes.
It was very nearly a dream return for Lachie Turner, who looked to have scored out wide only to be denied by a brilliant tackle from Corey Jane who forced Turner’s foot into touch just before the ball was grounded.
Giteau levelled things with a penalty goal moments later but the hosts soon found themselves on the back foot as Ma’a Nonu and Mils Muliaina both came close to scoring the first five-pointer of the contest.
The All Blacks had to settle for a second Weepu penalty in the 12th minute after Kurtley Beale and Turner both produced try-saving tackles.
And the Wallabies made the most of both let-offs when number eight Ben McCalman caught the All Blacks napping down the short side from a midfield scrum.
McCalman showed good pace to beat Victor Vito and Read before linking with James O’Connor, who scorched over untouched in the corner to give the hosts an 8-6 lead in the 16th minute.
As they have done so often this season, the visitors stole the ball from the re-start and set up camp deep in Australian territory.
But again the hosts were able to repel a sustained All Blacks wave of attack to cling to their two-point lead.
Giteau failed to capitalise on a high tackle from Nonu on Beale in the 24th minute, missing his sideline penalty attempt.
But he made amends in the 33rd and 40th minutes to send the home team into the interval leading 14-6.
The All Blacks squandered three golden attacking opportunities at the resumption, losing a hat-trick of lineout throws.
And they were made to pay when Adam Ashley-Cooper crashed through three defenders to score his fifth career try against the All Blacks and give his side a 19-6 advantage after Will Genia spotted space out wide.
Weepu and Beale traded penalties as the hosts maintained their 13-point buffer with 20 minutes to play.
But, unfortunately for the majority of the 70,288 in attendance, the Kiwis were far from finished.
McCaw scored from the scrum base in the 67th minute and Weepu added the extras to pull the visitors back to within six points.
Read then crashed over with seven minutes remaining and again Weepu held his nerve to convert to give New Zealand a match-winning one-point lead.