Stand-off Beauden Barrett scored a try with two minutes remaining to give the All Blacks a 35-29 win over the Wallabies, allowing them to retain the Bledisloe Cup in a classic Test match in Dunedin.
Barrett finished with two tries and 20 points as New Zealand overcame a 17-0 deficit after only 15 minutes, then came back after twice losing the lead in the last ten minutes for an extraordinary victory.
Australia started as massive underdogs after last weekend’s 54-34 loss in Sydney but produced one of the greatest turnarounds in rugby history to go within a fraction of a historic upset.
Australia snatched late leads with tries from scrum-half Will Genia and centre Kurtley Beale but on both occasions New Zealand instantly bounced back with tries of their own.
The Wallabies rocked the All Blacks with three early tries, including one from an intercept inside the first minute to full-back Israel Folau. Captain Michael Hooper in the 11th minute and stand-off Bernard Folau, in the 15th, added tries which stunned the All Blacks in Dunedin’s indoor stadium.
The match started late after the Wallabies complained their build-up had been affected by a floodlight failure.
New Zealand clawed their way back with tries to winger Rieko Ioane – his sixth in as many Tests – and to scrum-half Aaron Smith to go to half-time only three points behind at 17-14. The All Blacks finally gained the lead for the first time with Barrett’s first try in the 60th minute, edging ahead 21-17. But that was only the beginning of a dizzy finish in which five tries were scored in 20 minutes and the lead changed hands four times.
Genia reclaimed the lead in the 66th with a try that put the Wallabies ahead 22-21.
Departing full-back Ben Smith immediately scored to give the All Blacks a 28-22 lead in what seemed likely to be the last act of the match.
But the Wallabies came back again with a try to Beale and led 29-28.
With only three minutes left, the All Blacks regained possession from the kick-off and scrum-half TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga and captain Kieran Read combined to create the winning try for Barrett.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said his players had showed huge character to extend their hold on the Bledisloe Cup into a 15th year.
“It was a great Test match,” Hansen said. “Anyone who paid money to watch it should have loved it.
“Our set piece was really good and our scrum was what allowed us to get back in the game.”