TRI NATIONS: BLEDISLOE CUP: Saturday, August 13
Australia 13 New Zealand 30, Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Scorers: Australia: Try: Drew Mitchell; Con: Matt Giteau; Pens: Giteau 2
New Zealand: Tries: Piri Weepu, Richie McCaw, Joe Rokocoko; Cons: Dan Carter 2, Luke McAlister; Pens: Carter 3
New Zealand exercised the demons of last week's Tri Nations loss to South Africa by retaining the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday with a 30-13 defeat of the Wallabies.
Australia, who entertain the table-topping Springboks with some trepidation next Saturday in Perth, made the better start in Sydney, scorching into a 13-0 lead thanks to a converted try from newcomer Drew Mitchell and two penalties from the boot of stand-in fly-half Matt Giteau.
Previous to Mitchell's effort, which saw the full-back fend off the tackle of Dan Carter, All Black centre Aaron Mauger was unfortunate to be called back when clean through, for an earlier knock on, although television replays showed otherwise.
Graham Henry's gradually gained parity however, as Carter's 15th-minute penalty was added to by second choice scrum-half Piri Weepu on 28 minutes. Joe Rokocoko's burst down the left touchline had set up field position for Hurricanes youngster Weepu to strike for a close range try.
Carter converted for a 13-10 half-time deficit and it was all to play for with both sides winless from their Tri Nations openers against the 'Boks.
Injuries to fly-half Stephen Larkham, full-back Chris Latham, and influential backs Mat Rogers and Wendell Sailors in the lead-up to the sides' 122nd meeting did little to help the Australians' cause, and the visitors looked the hungrier on the restart.
Carter quickly levelled with his second penalty, and the All Blacks suddenly moved up a gear.
Despite Super 12 top try scorer Rico Gear dropping the ball over the home line in the early stages, Henry's charges hit the front on 51 minutes when Carter kicked his third penalty for a collapsed scrum.
With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, the Aussie defence was marked absence when Kiwi vice-captain Richie McCaw took a quick tap and charged through three tackles to score. Carter converted before going off with a leg injury (fractured fibula) which will see him sidelined for the next 6-12 weeks.
Recalled winger Rokocoko then staved off any hopes the Aussies had of a recovery when the All Blacks struck for their third try on 72 minutes. They scooped up turnover ball on their own ten-metre line, skipper Tana Umaga fed Rokocoko and the Fijian-born flyer did the rest as he chipped ahead and gathered to complete a stunning 70-metre dash to the line.
The win puts New Zealand right back into the frame for the Tri Nations title, as they trailed the 'Boks by three points - 5 to 8 - after the first three rounds of the 2005 tournament.
Afterwards, Wallabies coach Eddie Jones admitted he would "step aside" if asked to. A third straight loss to the Springboks next weekend would almost certainly end the reign of the former school principal, who took over from Rod Macqueen in 2001.
"All I am concerned about is coaching the side," insisted ex-ACT Brumbies boss Jones. "If people want to make the decision that I am not the right person then I will step aside. If someone tells me I'm not in the job I'm not going to sit there and not move."
Jones' current contract runs out after the 2007 World Cup.
Australia: D Mitchell; M Gerrard, S Mortlock, M Turinui, L Tuqiri; M Giteau, G Gregan (Capt); B Young, J Paul, A Baxter, D Vickerman, N Sharpe, J Roe, G Smith, D Lyons. M Muliaina; R Gear, T Umaga (Capt), A Mauger, J Rokocoko; D Carter, P Weepu; T Woodcock, K Mealamu, C Hayman, C Jack, A Williams, J Collins, R So'oialo, R McCaw.
HT: Australia 13 New Zealand 10; Attendance: 82,309
Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England)