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All Blacks take series 3-1
Carter switch proves catalyst for comeback victory
New Zealand fought back from a 10-point deficit to clinch a 19-14 victory over Australia in their final Bledisloe Cup clash in Hong Kong on Saturday.
Already assured of retaining the trophy after taking a 2-1 series lead last month, the All Blacks came out fighting after a Drew Mitchell double saw them trailing 9-14 at the halfway mark.
Daniel Carter kept the All Blacks in touch with three first half penalties before winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and captain Richie McCaw clinched the match and series with classy scores after the break.
Australia stunned New Zealand with their first attack of the game, a brilliant inside ball from fly half Matt Giteau releasing Mitchell to cross under the posts in the 6th minute.
Giteau converted for a 7-0 lead and Carter, making a rare start at inside centre, replied with two penalties to close the gap to a point.
With the All Black defence looking shaky under pressure, George Smith's quick hands created an overlap in the 25th minute gifting a simple second touchdown to Mitchell.
Giteau converted from the touchline for a 14-6 lead, before Carter slotted one from the halfway to take the Kiwis into the break still in contention, despite never once testing the Australian line.
Soon after the re-start however they hit back, the ball finding Sivivatu at the end of the line for the winger to touch down on the left.
Carter's missed conversion kept the scores level on 14 apiece but now, with Na'a Nonu on for Stephen Donald and Carter back in his favoured fly-half slot, the New Zealanders began to flow.
With 17 minutes to go Sivivatu floated a looping pass wide to an unmarked Richie McCaw, who crossed in the right corner to give New Zealand the lead for the first time in the game.
Carter missed the conversion to leave the scores at 19-14 and shortly after Guiteau also missed a long distance penalty effort.
With the clock ticking down, the Wallabies' attacks became increasingly desperate and the All Blacks held on for the win.
The result was almost a mirror of the teams' last clash that saw the All Blacks also fight back from 10 points down to win 28-24 in Brisbane.
Earlier in the series, the Wallabies won 34-19 in Sydney on July 26 and the All Blacks won 39-10 in Auckland the following week.
The Hong Kong match was the first time, except for the World Cup, that the two sides had met on foreign soil outside.
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|Saturday 18th October|
|10:00||Australia vs New Zealand|
|Saturday 1st November|
|TBC||USA vs New Zealand|
|Saturday 8th November|
|TBC||Scotland vs Argentina|
|14:00||Italy vs Samoa|
|14:30||England vs New Zealand|
|14:30||Wales vs Australia|
|16:45||France vs Fiji|
|17:00||Ireland vs South Africa|
|Saturday 15th November|
|TBC||Scotland vs New Zealand|
|14:30||England vs South Africa|
|14:30||Italy vs Argentina|
|14:30||Wales vs Fiji|
|20:00||France vs Australia|
|Sunday 16th November|
|14:30||Ireland vs Georgia|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|TBC||Scotland vs Tonga|
|14:30||Italy vs South Africa|
|16:30||Ireland vs Australia|
|17:30||Wales vs New Zealand|
|19:00||England vs Samoa|
|20:00||France vs Argentina|
|Saturday 29th November|
|14:30||England vs Australia|
|14:30||Wales vs South Africa|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com