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All Blacks hold off Wallabies

New Zealand edged a thrilling final Bledisloe Cup clash in Dunedin, just about holding off a Quade Cooper-inspired Australia to win 41-33.

Despite the series having already been decided in the All Blacks' favour, there was no suggestion of the game being a dead rubber as the sides continued to throw everything they had at each other until the final second.

Steve Hansen's side may well wonder why they only won by eight points considering how dominant they were in the first half, but somehow, often thanks to Cooper, the Wallabies hung on.

Both sides will now have plenty to ponder ahead of their upcoming European tours, although New Zealand may have more concerns considering the number of points they conceded to an Australian side they have so often dominated.

That started in the fourth minute when Cooper split the posts with a penalty, before Aaron Cruden failed with an attempt at the other end, falling short of the mark.

A response did come, though, and it was in the form of a try rather than a penalty as Israel Dagg ran at the line and slipped a pass out to Julian Savea who dotted down his 16th international try. Cruden converted for a 7-3 lead.

Cooper then dropped a goal and Cruden kicked a penalty as the scoreboard ticked over, before the two men traded further three-pointers.

Cooper, not always renowned for his defensive muscle, then did well to repel Aaron Smith in the corner with a fine tackle, but his effort was wasted as New Zealand switched to the left and scored.

Smith, back on his feet, kicked wide for Savea, he had a flying Dagg on his inside and the ball eventually made its way to Sam Cane who did the rest, with the simplest of conversions following.

Cooper stuck at it, though, and kicked a penalty, as did Cruden, before Australia were cut open again in the 37th minute, with Cruden running on to Liam Messam's pass to score a try which he created.

There appeared little Australia could do but with seconds left of the half, Cooper floated a cut-out pass to the left corner and Adam Ashley-Cooper did the rest, with the creator kicking the touchline goal.

Cruden got New Zealand moving out to 33-19 with an early penalty in the second half, but Matt Toomua made it interesting again with a first Test try after Savea was intercepted by Tevita Kuridrani.

Cooper converted and New Zealand only led by seven points - something Cruden failed to change when he missed a routine penalty.

But as in the first half, a try proved a better response, with captain Read - leading in the absence of Richie McCaw - going in on an overlap after a left-to-right move.

Substitue Beauden Barrett's penalty got them out to 41-26 before Cooper made arguably his first mistake of the night as he rocketed a pass out of touch when Peter Betham was waiting to score.

That was with five minutes left, so when Kuridrani barged over with three minutes left and Cooper converted, time had failed Australia.


From Belfast Telegraph