New Zealand fight back to beat Australia and claim Bledisloe Cup in dramatic fashion
New Zealand 35 Australia 29
New Zealand defeated Australia for the second time in eight days but had to hit hit back from 17-0 down and needed a last-gasp try from Beauden Barrett to triumph 35-29 in Dunedin.
The All Blacks put 40 points on their rivals in the first half of last Saturday's Rugby Championship opener in Sydney but it was Australia who came storming out of the blocks across the Tasman Sea with three tries in the first quarter of an hour.
The gap was narrowed to 17-14 by half-time, setting up a pulsating second half that saw the lead change hands several times before Barrett crossed for the second time two minutes from time to gift the Kiwis a hard-fought win.
Barrett's conversions proved just as pivotal as both sides scored five tries but the New Zealand fly-half split the posts each time as opposed to Bernard Foley, who was off-target with three kicks.
Having slipped 54-6 down last week, Australia earned praise for their fightback that saw them reduce the arrears to 54-34 and they picked up where they let off.
Israel Folau ran the length of the field after collecting a misplaced pass from Damian McKenzie to open the scoring inside the first 30 seconds.
The home supporters were further silenced when Michael Hooper barged out of a driving maul and through poor tackling to touch down before the flanker teed up Will Genia to go over.
But Rieko Ioane got New Zealand on the scoresheet after collecting a 'no-look' inside pass from scrum-half Aaron Smith, who then touched down on the hooter following some sustained pressure from the hosts.
Barrett got his first just after the hour mark to put New Zealand in front for the first time and although Australia retook the lead in the 67th minute when Genia ran straight through a ruck, they held only a one-point advantage due to the goalkicking of Foley and Barrett.
A topsy-turvy half continued when Ben Smith touched down on the overlap eight minutes from time only for Australia to respond shortly afterwards when a bloodied Kurtley Beale burst through a gap to score under the posts.
That left Foley with a simple conversion to give Australia a one-point lead with four minutes remaining.
New Zealand, though, were able to win the ball from the restart and an offload from Kieran Read allowed TJ Perenara to put through Barrett, who ran to the line unchallenged to cap a dramatic encounter.