All Blacks hold off Australia


CHRISTCHURCH, August 7- 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 Saturday.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 them a bonus point to leave the New Zealanders on the brink of 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.

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.

They have been accused by former Australian coach Bob Dwyer of being cheats, while South Africans say they receive favourable treatment from referees and in this Test they twice escaped with warnings but no yellow cards.

On the positive side for the All Blacks, whose focus this year has been on an adventurous attacking policy reaping 17 tries from four Tri-Nations matches, was their stout defence.

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 they were only able to bag one try.

Instead, their multi-phased attacks regularly ended up behind the advantage line as loose forwards Richie McCaw and Kieran Read led a defensive effort that shut down the gaps.

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 downfield.

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.

Dan 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 David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe sending Beale on a 65 metre-run to the line.

As if on cue the Wallabies again struck back after Carter landed the conversion with Matt Giteau adding three points.

The All Blacks struck again when they won a penalty which Carter converted to give them a 17-10 lead at halftime.

There was definite change of mood by the All Blacks after halftime 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.