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Australia rock NZ to claim Tri Nations

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Sportal.co.nz     28 Aug 2011     Getty Images

The Australians reversed the first encounter between the two by hitting the All Blacks hard in the first half and set up their win by dishing out a battering which forced the New Zealanders to reshape their pack after losing No.8 Kieran Read and flanker Adam Thomson.

But while the New Zealanders paid the price for the start they did pick up their game and get back into the contest but will be left to mull over the consequences of successive losses as they head into the Rugby World Cup in less than a fortnight.

They struggled to hold onto the ball and left the coaching staff with plenty to mull over.

It took a powerhouse New Zealand performance to get back into the game after the Australians rocked them in the first half to claim a 20-3 lead at the break. The heavyweights up front, hooker Keven Mealamu, prop Owen Franks and lock Brad Thorn took matters into their own hands with some extended driving into the Australian defence.

They got New Zealand back to 20-20 but the Australians were not in a mood to be denied and the breakdown issues seen in South Africa were not eliminated in full as David Pocock and Rocky Elsom got among them to upset the flow of possession.

The All Blacks second half reply started with Carter landing a 47th minute penalty goal before the most cohesive play from the New Zealand pack who were patience personified in a superb series of phase plays which saw the ball moved hardly a metre from the ruck 27 times before the ball was moved.

Carter took the tackle on the blindside and fed centre Conrad Smith who cut through for the try.

Seven minutes later more power play created a chance for Carter to work a reverse pass with Nonu. He worked the ball with Smith and Nonu backed up and raced by Cooper to touch down. Carter's conversion drew the scores level.

However, Australia weren't finished and from a midfield ruck Genia ran, shadowing referee Wayne Barnes initially before finding wing Digby Ioane in support and he was able to put Kurtley Beale over for the try in the 60th minute.

New Zealand made 15 errors to Australia's six in the first half, giving itself no opportunity to pull back the margin.

Australia made all the early running, hitting the game with force to negate the All Blacks' opportunities to impose themselves as they had in the first match in Auckland. An early penalty goal to Quade Cooper after a ruck infringement was followed in the 12th minute by a try to halfback Will Genia.

New Zealand were feeling the effects of the intensity of the contest with each of the flankers Richie McCaw and Adam Thomson needing early attention while No.8 Kieran Read left the field injured just before Genia's try.

Rampaging Australian No.8 Radike Samo made a rampaging run from the restart and was only just dragged down before New Zealand returned the ball downfield, and missed a try wihen a spot tackle by centre Anthony Fainga'a hit fullback Mils Muliaina just as he was about to pass the ball on to the unmarked wing Cory Jane.

New Zealand's handling several times let them down with wing Zac Guildford struggling but the impressive feature of the first half was the way the Australians were in the face of the All Blacks with spot tackles of fearsome effect.

It was no place for the faint-hearted and after Cooper's second penalty goal, in the 32nd minute, McCaw had the ball ripped away from him at the restart by rival David Pocock. From the ruck Samo was fed and he broke through the line by fending off Thomson's tackle attempt to clear out on a superb 60m run for the line. Cooper's conversion had Australia out by 20-3.

Thomson was forced to leave the field with an injury just before the break resulting in Sam Whitelock moving to the blindside of the scrum with Ali Williams moving to lock.

Scorers: Australia 25 (Will Genia, Radike Samo, Kurtley Beale tries; Quade Cooper 2 con, 2 pen) New Zealand 20 (Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu tries; Dan Carter 2 con,2 pen). HT: 20-3