26 Aug 2017

All Blacks clinch Bledisloe Cup in stunner

11:10 pm on 26 August 2017

The All Blacks New Zealand have maintained their 15-year grip on the Bledisloe Cup overcoming a vastly improved Australia to win 35-29 in a heart-stopping second Test on Saturday.

All Blacks celebrate Beauden Barrett's try.

All Blacks celebrate Beauden Barrett's try. Photo: Photosport

The All Blacks stole victory courtesy of a last-gasp Beauden Barrett try.

Kurtley Beale looked to have pinched it for the Wallabies with four minutes to go, leaping over for the team's fifth try to put them ahead 29-28 in Dunedin and on course for a first win in New Zealand since 2001.

But Barrett drove a dagger through the visitors' hearts with a near-instant response to seal a dramatic series win - the 15th in a row for the All Blacks - with his second try of the night.

Australia twice came from behind but will live to regret not making the most of a dream start.

The Wallabies celebrate after the try of Michael Hooper in the second Bledisloe Cup game in Dunedin.

The Wallabies celebrate after the try of Michael Hooper in the second Bledisloe Cup game in Dunedin. Photo: Photosport

At one stage they were 17-0 ahead, with Israel Folau scoring a 70m intercept try after just 26 seconds.

But Bernard Foley's wayward goalkicking at the indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium cost the visitors nine crucial points - and probably the match.

Australia would have been 24-7 up after half an hour had Foley not missed two conversion attempts and a penalty.

Instead, they clung for dear life to a three-point lead at the interval and lost their lead when Barrett barrelled over in the 63rd minute.

Foley missed another conversion minutes later after Will Genia crossed, hitting the upright for the third time to leave the door open for the world champions.

While the Wallabies kept on coming - helped by three All Black tries that were disallowed by television match official Rowan Kitt - they ultimately could not deny the hosts

However, Australian supporters can take heart from a markedly better performance on the back of their first Test embarrassment in Sydney -- and one that suggests the trans-Tasman rugby chasm isn't as big as many believe.

Their defence was strong, their tackling was ferocious and their attitude was perfect, and there is now reason to be genuinely optimistic for better fortunes in the future.