NZ retain Bledisloe Cup
Christchurch - The ruthless efficiency of the All Blacks defence kept their unbeaten Tri-Nations campaign on track as they withstood relentless pressure to beat the Wallabies 20-10 on Saturday.
VIDEO: Richie McCaw shows his softer side
The All Blacks led 17-10 at half-time and then mounted a rock-solid defensive effort to hold back a barrage of Wallaby attacks before a Dan Carter penalty 10 minutes from time moved them out of the seven-point danger zone.
The two-tries-to-one performance gave the All Blacks their fourth win from four matches but, denied a bonus point, they were left stranded a point away from claiming the Tri-Nations crown for the 10th time in 15 years.
But the win did ensure they keep the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rivalry and consigned the Robbie Deans-coached Wallabies to a record-equalling ninth successive defeat against the All Blacks.
"It shows the character in the team," said captain Richie McCaw as the match statistics showed the Wallabies had 56 percent of possession and the All Blacks made 110 tackles while missing only five.
"We've won games by scoring tries whereas tonight it was defence that really won us the game. We took our opportunities in the first half and then had to defend.
"There were some big hits went in out there and it sums up the character in the team -- defending for each other and keep getting up."
But the game was not without its frustrations for the Wallabies, desperate to come back from their 49-28 hiding last week, as the All Blacks rode their luck with ruck infringements and escaped with warnings but no yellow cards.
"It was a better effort from us. We produced a lot more position and a lot more possession but the All Blacks were successful in denying us momentum," Deans said.
"They were able to deny us momentum at the breakdown which allowed them to set ... it's probably the one thing they do best is they slow the ball which allows them to bring their organisation and athleticism into play."
Australia could not complain about the amount of possession David Pocock and Rocky Elsom ensured, nor the way their pack cleared the All Blacks out of the ruck.
But their multi-phased attacks regularly ended up behind the advantage line as McCaw and Kieran Read led a defensive effort that shut down the gaps, and Elsom admitted the Wallabies had done all they could.
"To a man every guy out there put everything they had into getting over the line. We didn't get there but it wasn't through lack of trying."
Although the Wallabies controlled possession for the first five minutes it was the All Blacks who scored first in a move which started when lock Tom Donnelly snapped up a turnover ball to charge 20 metres.
When he was brought down on the 22-metre line by Kurtley Beale the All Blacks quickly recycled and Mils Muliaina was sent over in the corner.
Carter converted from the sideline and then went from hero to zero soon after the restart when he lost the ball in a tackle which resulted in Pocock and Nathan Sharpe sending Beale on a 65 metre-run to the line.
Carter was again the centre of the action when his in-out move created an overlap for Conrad Smith to touch down and all the try scoring in the match was over in the first 14 minutes.
A Carter conversion and penalty, and a penalty for Australia by Matt Giteau saw the All Blacks lead 17-10 at halftime.
There was a definite change of mood by the All Blacks after the break as the Wallabies mounted wave after wave of attacks.
The All Blacks put the brakes on their free-for-all running and turned more to flyhalf Carter to kick them out of trouble as they withstood 30 minutes of pressure before a Carter penalty produced the only points of the second half.
The only way the All Blacks can be denied the Tri-Nations trophy is if they go point-less in their remaining two matches and the Wallabies win their last three with bonus points. South Africa are out of the running.