Australia claim Championship in thrilling final

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Lynn McConnell     08 Aug 2015     Getty Images

A sometimes frenetic Australian defensive approach unsettled the All Blacks who were uncharacteristically hesitant and indecisive with the ball in hand, several times being forced to attempt flick passes to clear the rampant Australian tacklers.

Little mistakes also proved costly, none more than that by halfback Aaron Smith when failing to put a loose kick into touch. That allowed Australia to reclaim the ball and set up the play which produced the match-winning try for halfback Nic White.

The loss of a late try scoring chance at a scrum close to the home team's line when replacement halfback TJ Perenara knocked the ball on summed up the night.

The Australia challenge even extended to first five-eighths Dan Carter's conversion attempts, and while they didn't charge them down, they did enough to put him off as both efforts missed. However, his three penalty goals saw him became the first player in Tests to post 1500 points.

The loss also continued the trend since 2007 of losing pre-World Cup Tests on Australian soil. It was the first time Australia have won the Championship.

After a low-key 50 minutes from both sides the tempo rose as key substitutions were made, with those of first five-eighths Matt Toomua and White being especially important for Australia. Toomua set up a key try for wing Adam Ashley-Cooper with a deftly-weighted tactical kick in the 60th minute.

Then White landed a 73rd minute penalty goal from 48metres and then raced through a gap to score the match-winning try.

On a night of few highpoints for the All Blacks, the debut of wing Nehe Milner-Skudder was significant as he scored two tries in nine minutes

Typical of New Zealand's issues were their starts to each half; they failed to secure the first, and then were ruled not 10m at the second.

They lost Aaron Smith to the sin-bin for a high tackle on wing Adam Ashley-Cooper while halfback Nick Phipps and prop Sekope Kepu were sin-binned from the Australians.

Kepu repaid his sin-binning when scoring a try following a lineout maul after Aaron Smith's sin-binning. Kepu exploded through some disappointing New Zealand defence to score the try.

But in the 54th minute, replacement prop Nepo Laulala, who made an immediate impact when replacing Owen Franks, charged ahead. From the ruck Carter found a half gap and fed the ball to fullback Ben Smith who wrestled for it with Ashley-Cooper before getting the ball to wing Milner-Skudder who reclaimed the lead for New Zealand.

However, the lead was short-lived after the Australians held possession and worked the ball around before Toomua slipped a nicely weighted kick which saw a flying Ashley-Cooper go over in the corner for a try which second five-eighths Matt Giteau converted.

New Zealand struck back with the benefit of quick ball from a ruck which saw Milner-Skudder score amid a host of tacklers.

The first half was untidy from both teams. New Zealand's attempted short passing between forwards off the rucks was well short of its usual accuracy and at the tackle Australian No.8 David Pocock was effective on the contest for the ball in the tackle with flanker Michael Hooper not far behind.

However, the Australians blew the best try scoring opportunities in the first half. Fullback Israel Folau was put into a gap and made good ground towards the line. But All Blacks fullback Ben Smith grabbed him short and when the ball was cleared infield it was dropped by lock Dean Mumm with an impressive choice of scoring options outside him.

The best chance for New Zealand came just before halftime when hooker Dane Coles stepped his way into a gap and then sped to the line before being tackled. The All Blacks attempted to clear room for wing Julian Savea on the left but the ball came out too slowly and Savea was knocked out in a covering tackle by Hooper.

Scorers: Australia 27 (Sekope Kepu, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nic White tries; Matt Giteau 2 con, pen; Nic White con, pen) New Zealand 19 (Nehe Milner-Skudder 2 tries; Dan Carter 3 pen). HT: 3-6