New Zealander Jordie Barrett scored a death try as the All Blacks beat Australia 39-37 in a thriller on Thursday to claim the Rugby Championship trophy and retain the Bledisloe Cup for a 20th year.
Coach Ian Foster’s side entered the rare midweek test in Melbourne after hammering Argentina 53-3 and hung on for back-to-back victories after Australia rallied from 31- 13 to win on the wire.
There was late drama when Australia, trailing 37-34 in the dying moments, were pinged because fly-half Bernard Foley took too long to kick a penalty into touch.
French referee Mathieu Raynal gave the All Blacks a scrum in a promising position, from where they scored.
SUMMARY | Wallabies 37-39 All Blacks
Earlier, the teams went to the break at 10-10 at a sold-out Docklands stadium after a grueling first half that saw a try apiece, three yellow cards and three All Blacks, including captain Sam Cane, limping hurt.
“What a classic,” said a relieved Cane. “To win on the buzzer, we are extremely excited.”
A New Zealand try 90 seconds after the restart – Samisoni Taukei’aho’s second – and a third yellow card for Australia seemed to end all hopes for the home side.
But two tries from Andrew Kellaway in less than five minutes and another from Pete Samu set up a thrilling finale.
“Absolutely disgusted. I don’t know what to say,” Australia captain James Slipper said.
“We wanted to perform tonight and we didn’t make it there. Probably the sharpest way to finish again, in my opinion.”
The victory further eased the pressure on Foster and kept them top of the Rugby Championship with one game left on 14 points, four above Australia.
The Springboks and Argentina meet on Saturday. Both have nine points.
The win also ensured the Bledisloe Cup remained in New Zealand hands ahead of the final Rugby Championship Test at Eden Park in Auckland next week.
After crushing Argentina in Hamilton, they were on top, facing a new-look Wallabies with eight changes from the side that crashed out 24-8 to South Africa.
And the home side were on their feet immediately when Jed Holloway failed to recover the kick-off hold.
New Zealand applied pressure which culminated when Taukei’aho collapsed in the corner after a powerful lineout.
Richie Mo’unga added the extras to give the visitors a dreamy 7-0 lead inside the opening four minutes, a welcome change for a side that have slowed down blocks this year.
Mo’unga netted a penalty to stretch the lead before the Wallabies went up the board, through Bernard Foley in his first game since the 2019 World Cup, netting an easy three-pointer.
In a blow to Australia, Kellaway was denied a try for not grounding the ball properly, but they had momentum and Rob Valetini crashed in for a converted try to level the scores .
Worse still for New Zealand, Dalton Papali’i was shown a yellow card, forcing the All Blacks into frantic defending from the back.
On his return, Australians Tom Wright and Darcy Swain were both sent on the sidelines for 10 minutes, penalized in the same period of play, to give New Zealand a two-man advantage.
They should have capitalized before the break, but Taukei’aho was denied his second try for not landing properly and they missed two more chances with sloppy handling.
He made no mistake after the restart, Taukei’aho breaking through the defense after just 90 seconds.
Poor discipline once again cost Australia with scrum-half Jake Gordon. Mo’unga dotted and then Will Jordan flew to the line, both as he was out of the park.
They appeared to be cruising, but incredibly, two tries from Kellaway brought Australia 27-31 and another from Samu, converted by Foley, made it 34-34 with six minutes remaining.
White sensationally drilled a long-range penalty to put them in front before Barrett’s late heroics.
15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 David Porecki, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Subs: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Nic White, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Scott Barrett, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Aikira Ioane, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea