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August 23, 2009

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Carter kicks All Blacks to thrilling Aussie win

NEW Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter celebrated his return to the All Blacks with a penalty two minutes from time to seal a thrilling 19-18 win over Australia in Sydney yesterday to clinch the Bledisloe Cup for a seventh straight season.

Carter, playing his first test this year after returning from injury, showed why he is regarded as one of the deadliest kickers to ever play the game when he held his nerve to coolly slot the match-winning goal at a packed Olympic Stadium after Australia wing Lachie Turner was penalized for failing to release the ball.

The Australians, who are yet to win a match in this year's Tri-Nations, led for almost all of the contest after flyhalf Matt Giteau produced a flawless display of goalkicking but once again came up agonizingly short after conceding the late penalty.

Giteau landed all six of his shots at goal and the home side also had a chance to snatch victory at the death only to cough up the ball just meters from the New Zealand line.

"That's right up there," All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said when asked if that was one of his team's best test wins. "We had to work hard at it. There were times at the end when we let them back in, but that's what test rugby is all about."

Wallabies skipper George Smith said his team was starved of possession. "Whenever we got the chance, we kicked the ball away. We got ourselves in good position here (in the final minute) but we didn't take our opportunity."

The Wallabies had looked to be in control after opening up a 12-3 lead at halftime but failed to contain the All Blacks in the second half.

New Zealand scored the only try through replacement center Ma'a Nonu and dominated possession and territory as the Australians struggled in the scrums, replacing tighthead prop Al Baxter after half an hour.

The first half failed to reach any great heights as both sides failed to deliver on their promise to play an expansive running game.

New Zealand is back in contention in the Tri-Nations, with home matches remaining against Australia and leader South Africa. Australia's third straight loss all but ended its chances in the tournament.


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