Bledisloe Cup: New Zealand win high-scoring thriller with Australia in Dunedin
Last Updated: 20/10/13 10:05am
Aaron Cruden crosses for one of four New Zealand tries
New Zealand maintained their dominance over Australia with a 41-33 victory in their third and final Bledisloe Cup clash of 2013 at Dunedin.
The All Blacks overcame the absence of key duo Richie McCaw and Corey Jane to record their third successive win over their Trans-Tasman rivals in a high-scoring thriller at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Steve Hansen's All Blacks have now won all 10 matches this year and their latest success marks a record-equalling 30 wins in a row on home soil.
Both teams will depart for the northern hemisphere in the coming days for their year-ending tour, with the Bledisloe Cup staying in New Zealand for an 11th successive year.
Despite an improved showing from the Wallabies, who were crushed 54-17 last time out, they could not stop New Zealand and in particular Aaron Cruden, who scored one try, made another, and booted over 18 points.
Cruden was one of three New Zealand try-scorers in the first half but Adam Ashley-Cooper's score on the buzzer kept Australia in contention at 30-19 down.
Quade Cooper kicked the Wallabies into an early lead but Julian Savea's 10th minute try after smart play from Israel Dagg put the hosts in front.
Cooper and Cruden traded scores from the boot midway through the first half and it took a moment of brilliance from the world champions to extend their lead.
Cruden's perfectly weighted cross-field kick found Savea who offloaded to Dagg who in turn skipped past Israel Folau and Peter Betham to find Sam Cane in space for his sixth try in 13 Tests.
Cooper stuck at it, though, and kicked a penalty, as did Cruden, before Australia were cut open again in the 37th minute, with Cruden running on to Liam Messam's pass to score.
There appeared little Australia could do but with seconds left of the half, Cooper floated a cut-out pass to the left corner and Ashley-Cooper did the rest, with the creator kicking the touchline goal.
Cruden got New Zealand moving out to 33-19 with an early penalty in the second half, but Matt Toomua made it interesting again with a first Test try after Savea was intercepted by Tevita Kuridrani.
Cooper converted and New Zealand only led by seven points - something Cruden failed to change when he missed a routine penalty.
But as in the first half, a try proved a better response, with captain Kieran Read - leading in the absence of McCaw - going in on an overlap after a left-to-right move.
Substitue Beauden Barrett's penalty got them out to 41-26 before Cooper made arguably his first mistake of the night as he rocketed a pass out of touch when Betham was waiting to score.
That was with five minutes left, so when Tevita Kuridrani barged over with three minutes left and Cooper converted, time had failed Australia.
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Bledisloe Cup October 2013
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen claimed he never expected perfection as his side beat Australia in a seven-try thriller.
The All Blacks have already retained the Bledisloe Cup but Australia's head coach Ewen McKenzie insists there's still pride to play for.
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie will hand a Test debut to Peter Betham in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash with New Zealand.