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Tougher contest but All Blacks prevail to hold Bledisloe Cup

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Lynn McConnell     27 Aug 2016     Getty Images

Australia came to put the All Blacks off their game but the world champions held their composure in the face of provocation and had the final say by keeping the Wallabies tryless.

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The experiment of playing Israel Dagg on the wing yielded profit with two tries while the debut of Anton Lienert-Brown was a triumph of opportunity which bodes well for the longer term development of New Zealand's midfield. He was assured and competitive.

The performance highlighted the continuing growth of flanker Sam Cane who showed against the lively Australian loose forwards that he can stand his ground on the finest stage.

Having been frustrated off their game in the first half, the All Blacks took a more direct approach at the start of the second half and with an increase in tempo it brought early dividends that killed off the Australian challenge.

Halfback Aaron Smith launched a box kick which Dagg took out of Quade Cooper's grasp. From the ruck the ball was moved for Barrett to put a long pass across to fullback Ben Smith who was able to let Julian Savea to rampage down the left wing for his second try of the series.



With both sides ushering in their substitutes, the All Blacks looked to their forward power via lineouts to turn the pressure back on Australia. Two lengthy drives at the line produced a 62nd minute try for flanker Sam Cane after another decisive incursion by Ben Smith.

Australia came out with aggression with early emphasis being placed on unsettling the home pack and lock Brodie Retallick especially, but it was all for naught as it took a controlled lineout drive before halfback Aaron Smith set off on a blindside sortie and threaded his way back across field to link with the backs.

Then as the ball came back, prop Owen Franks executed a perfect pass to Lienert-Brown who lobbed a high pass over a defender to create the chance for Dagg to score in the seventh minute.

Second five-eighths Bernard Foley landed two early penalty goals but the lineout woes that marred Australia's first Test continued but it was a clean take off their own ball that saw the All Blacks' second try in the 22nd minute with Lienert-Brown taking the ball at first receiver. That allowed Barrett to run from behind at speed to create space which gave Dagg the chance on the flank to score his second try.

Australia benefited from one of the bigger penalty goals landed on the ground from 52m by replacement wing Reece Hodge. He came on for Adam Ashley-Cooper who was concussed in the 17th minute.

But they lost lock Adam Coleman who was sent to the sin-bin for a late charge on All Blacks fullback Ben Smith. And as they assess where it went wrong for them the Wallabies could look to their lineout again, scrum issues which resulted in a key tighthead being lose.

Australia had no-one who provided the consistency of ball that came via All Black skipper Kieran Read from the lineout and ended the game with replacement halfback Nick Phipps losing the ball as he attempted to ground it over the line. It was that sort of night for the Australians, but left the All Blacks with more to work on ahead of their next Test against Argentina in a fortnight.

Scorers: New Zealand 29 (Israel Dagg 2, Julian Savea, Sam Cane tries; Beauden Barrett 3 con, pen) Australia 9 (Bernard Foley 2 pen; Reece Hodge pen ). HT: 15-9