All Blacks mount late comeback to edge Wallabies in Dunedin thriller

All Blacks mount late comeback to edge Wallabies in Dunedin thriller

The All Blacks recovered from being 3-17 down at half-time to beat the Wallabies 23-20 in a thrilling Bledisloe Cup encounter at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

After winning the Bledisloe Cup for the 21st successive year in Melbourne last week, the All Blacks made wholesale changes to their starting line-up and it showed as their opponents were the better team during the opening half.

However, the home side took control of proceedings after the interval and held their nerve to clinch a thrilling win with Richie Mo'unga slotting the match-winning penalty in the game's dying moments.

The All Blacks' other points came via tries from Shaun Stevenson and Samipeni Finau while Damian McKenzie added a conversion and a penalty and Mo'unga also slotted a conversion and another three-pointer off the kicking tee.

For the Wallabies, Marika Koroibete and Tom Hooper crossed the whitewash while Carter Gordon contributed seven points courtesy of a couple of conversions and a penalty and Quade Cooper also added a penalty.

The Wallabies made a terrific start and after taking the ball through several phases with their forwards they struck out wide with their backs as early as the third minute. Koroibete did brilliantly when he ran onto a pass from Samu Kerevi before crossing for the opening try in the left-hand corner despite desperate tackles from Stevenson and Finlay Christie.

Shortly afterwards, it was a similar story when Angus Bell took the ball into contact inside New Zealand's 22 with a powerful carry and the ball was recycled quickly. Kerevi turned provider again when he offloaded to Hooper, who powered through tackles from McKenzie and Stevenson before crashing over for his team's second try.

The All Blacks seemed shellshocked by the intesity of the Wallabies' onslaught but they finally opened their account in the 14th minute when McKenzie slotted a penalty.

Despite that, the visitors continued to hold the upper-hand and 10 minutes later they came close to scoring their third try when Pone Fa'amausili went over under New Zealand's posts but his effort was disallowed as Samisoni Taukei'aho held him up while crossing the whitewash.

However, the All Blacks had strayed offside in the build-up and Gordon was successful with the resulting penalty which gave the Wallabies a deserved 17-3 lead.

They had an opportunity to increase their lead on the hour-mark when Tate McDermott made a dash for the try-line but he too was held up after a desperate tackle from Ardie Savea.

It was a different All Blacks side which came out for the second half as they were much more competitive after the break and were immediately on the front foot from the kick off as they were soon camped inside the Wallabies' 22.

Dallas McLeod and Leicester Fainga'anuku caught the eye with powerful carries which sucked in the Wallabies' defence before McKenzie found Stevenson with an excellent skip pass and the debutant did well to dive over for his first Test try.

That score saw the All Blacks upping the ante on attack and in the 55th minute Fainga'anuku broke through a couple of tackles before barging over under the posts, but television replays revealed that he had lost control of the ball while crossing the try-line and his try was ruled out.

Despite that setback, momentum had swung in New Zealand's favour and in the 57th minute Mo'unga, who had come on to replace McKenzie, narrowed the gap to four points when he slotted a penalty.

On the hour-mark, Gordon had a chance to give his team its seven-point lead again but his penalty attempt struck an upright. Five minutes later, they were made to pay for that blunder when another Test rookie, Finau, crossed for his five-pointer after the All Blacks' forwards had put the Wallabies with some strong carries in the build-up.

That converted try gave the hosts a 20-17 lead but the Wallabies drew level in the 73rd minute when Cooper landed a long-range penalty.

Just before full-time, however, the visitors were penalised at a scrum and Mo'unga held his nerve from 45 metres out to slot the match-winning penalty for the All Blacks.

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