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Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 10:22 UK

New Zealand 22-16 Australia

New Zealand (10) 22
Try: McCaw Con: Donald Pens: Donald 5
Australia (13) 16
Try Barnes Con: Giteau Pens: Giteau 3

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw stretches over to score his side's try against Australia
Captain Richie McCaw stretches over to score New Zealand's try

Holders New Zealand recovered from an early deficit to open the defence of their Tri-Nations crown with a hard-earned win over Australia in Auckland.

The Wallabies, seeking a first victory at Eden Park since 1986, built a 13-3 lead following a Berrick Barnes try.

But returning All Blacks captain Richie McCaw dived over for a converted score to make the half-time score 10-13.

Fly-half Stephen Donald kicked four second-half penalties, to one from Matt Giteau, as the hosts finished strongly.

It was their 20th successive Test victory at Eden Park, where they have not lost since 1994, and a major confidence booster after some stuttering early-season displays against France and Italy.

They will travel to South Africa for two matches against the world champions in good heart, while the Wallabies will reflect on an opportunity lost to end a losing streak in Auckland that now stretches to 11 matches.

At the end of the day there's very little between these teams

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw

The visitors started strongly and grabbed the opening try after full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper barged through a tackle from a rusty McCaw.

Centre Barnes, with space ahead of him, sent two players the wrong way with a dummy before sailing through Mils Muliaina's flimsy attempted tackle to score.

Giteau adding the conversion and a penalty to make it 10-0 before Donald slotted one for the All Blacks, who lost several line-outs early on.

Australia should have scored a second try when Barnes failed to find one of six support players before flanker George Smith, playing his 100th Test, dropped the ball just short of the line.


Giteau made it 13-3 with his second penalty before the All Blacks hit back in the 25th minute.

A series of incisive attacks, with number eight Rodney So'oialo to the fore, was rewarded when Conrad Smith's angled run took him to within a few metres of the Australia line.

McCaw, up in support, steamed onto the centre's pass out of the tackle to touch down his 16th Test try, one short of Zinzan Brooke's All Blacks record for a forward.

Donald's conversion made it 10-13, and both fly-halves missed a further penalty opportunity before the interval.

The impressive Donald was swiftly on the mark again on the resumption however, two penalties inside the first four minutes giving New Zealand the lead for the first time.

But that was cancelled out by Giteau's third penalty in the 46th minute to leave the sides tied at 16-16 with more than half-an-hour left.

But the All Blacks stepped up the pressure at the breakdown, where they forced Australia to concede more penalties.

When you give a team as good as the All Blacks that many opportunities, you can't expect to win the game

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock

After Jerome Kaino charged down Giteau's clearance kick to leave the Wallabies back-pedalling, Donald nudged the hosts in front with his fourth penalty just after the hour.

His fifth with seven minutes left gave the hosts a cushion to see out the remainder of the match.

"It was good to see Steve Donald play so well," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry afterwards. "I thought he played his best game at international level and gave us a lot of direction."

McCaw added: "The team that wants to dig deepest is the team that will always come out on top in the end in a match like that. I am very proud of the way the guys did that."

Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock was left to reflect on some "poor discipline" and turnovers that saw his side's victory hopes slip away.

"When you give a team as good as the All Blacks that many opportunities, you can't expect to win the game," he said.

"It was disappointing we didn't capitalise on all the ones we created, but it is a great learning experience for us."

New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Rodney So'oialo.
Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Owen Franks, Jason Eaton, Kieran Read, Piri Weepu, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko.

Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, George Smith, Richard Brown, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill, Al Baxter, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson.
Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Dean Mumm, Phil Waugh, David Pocock, Will Genia, James O'Connor.

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