Late Barrett try spells heartbreak for Australia in Bledisloe thriller

Late Barrett try spells heartbreak for Australia in Bledisloe thriller

New Zealand fought back to retain the Bledisloe Cup, Beauden Barrett's late try consigning Australia to a 35-29 defeat.

Beauden Barrett broke Australia hearts with a last-gasp try as New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup by winning a thriller 35-29 at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

MORE: WATCH: Should Retallick have been marched?

Critics rounded on the Wallabies after they were put to the sword in the first half of the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney last weekend and they responded with a rousing start under the roof in Dunedin.

Israel Folau scored the first try of a chaotic clash inside 30 seconds and Michael Cheika's men led 17-0 with only 15 minutes played following further scores from captain Michael Hooper and Bernard Foley.

The All Blacks hit back, reducing the deficit to only three points at half-time courtesy of tries from Rieko Ioane – his sixth in as many Tests – and the lively Aaron Smith.

A Barrett try put the world champions in front midway through the second half, but Will Genia went over at the other end and Kurtley Beale looked to have won it with a fifth Australia try three minutes from time after Ben Smith went over in his final Test before taking a sabbatical.

The brilliant Barrett snatched it a minute from time, helping himself to a double to take his tally for the night to 20 points, four missed kicks from Foley proving to be decisive as New Zealand won the Bledisloe Cup for the 15th consecutive year.

The Wallabies scored four tries in a spirited final quarter in Sydney after the damage had already been done and they came out firing a week later following a delayed kick-off and a minute's silence for All Blacks great Colin Meads, who lost his battle with cancer last weekend.

Folau set the tone by intercepting a Damian McKenzie pass to race 75 metres for the opening score in the first minute and skipper Hooper burst through a gap following a scrum for another 10 minutes later in a dream start for the Wallabies.

The ragged world champions were caught out again when Genia threw a dummy at the back of a scrum before passing to the inspirational Hooper, who fed Foley for a third try.

Foley failed to convert for a second time, his effort striking the post, after referee Nigel Owens checked with the TMO that Genia had not knocked on.

The shell-shocked world champions regrouped and were on the board 22 minutes in when Ioane took a pass from Aaron Smith to go over, Barrett adding the extras.

Foley was denied by the post again when he ought to have been on target with a penalty and the All Blacks were rewarded for an intense period of pressure when Aaron Smith side-stepped Hooper to go under the posts after Ben Smith had a try ruled out for a knock-on.

The momentum was with New Zealand as they started the second half 17-14 down, but Brodie Retallick had a try chalked off as the TMO could not see any evidence of a grounding.

Barrett was cleared to return after a head injury assessment and showed he was not feeling the effects of a blow by diving over after making a run outside the sprightly Aaron Smith, who picked the ball up from behind a scrum to provide the assist.

The trusty Barrett made no mistake from the tee as the All Blacks hit the front for the first time, but they were behind again when the impressive Genia evaded three tackles to dot down 13 minutes from time.

Foley incredibly hit the woodwork for a third time with his attempted conversion and the Test swung back in New Zealand's favour when Ben Smith signed off for his extended break by plucking a pass from McKenzie to score a try in his hometown following 22 phases from the rampant hosts.

Beale appeared to have given the Wallabies a first victory in seven against their Trans-Tasman after a short ball from Genia enabled him to scamper under the posts and Foley slotted over a simple conversion to make it 29-28 with time running out.

The All Blacks showed they can never be written off, though, winning the ball back from the kick-off before Barrett surged away to settle an epic contest after Kieran Read and TJ Perenara combined.

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