The All Blacks were 'absolutely delighted' to regain the Bledisloe Cup from Australia, New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne said last night.
Speaking after the All Blacks had beaten Australia 21-17 win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 1997, Thorne said: "The guys are absolutely delighted; it's taken a long time to get it back."
"The Australians never gave up and we expected that.
"The country really wanted us to do well. We were aware of the pressure on us but we didn't want to get bogged down by it."
Coach John Mitchell was pleased with the reward for his players' effort so far this season.
"I'm thrilled for them. It allows us a break and get into World Cup build-up with some confidence."
Australian captain George Gregan couldn't hide his disappointment at losing the Bledisloe Cup.
"It's very disappointing, the effort was good but it hurts to lose it," Gregan said.
"We didn't handle the big moments very well.
"It would have been nice to get over the line in the second half, it could have been different."
Coach Eddie Jones saw some positives in their performance.
"While it is disappointing, there were improvements in areas of our play. It probably puts us in a good position to push on to the World Cup."
In a fiercely contest match at Eden Park, Auckland winger Doug Howlett scored two tries in the first half, while first five-eighths Carlos Spencer kicked three penalties and a conversion.
George Smith scored the Wallabies' lone try while inside centre Elton Flatley landed four penalties from as many attempts as the world champions threatened to steal victory in the dying minutes of the teams' final pre-World Cup hitout.
The Wallabies produced a vastly better performance than their 50-21 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney last month to give their World Cup aspirations a boost, but the All Blacks were still marginally the better side.
Australia opened the scoring with a penalty from Flatley in the second minute but the All Blacks quickly replied with Howlett's first touchdown.
Fullback Mils Muliaina broke the Australian line after fielding a kick deep inside his own half. He sprinted down the left flank then shifted the ball back across the right.
Aaron Mauger put Keven Mealamu into a hole and the hooker offloaded the ball to Howlett to finish off the try.
Australia regained the lead by the 22nd minute after Flatley slotted another two penalties but the All Blacks again hit back with Howlett's second try.
Jerry Collins stole the ball from the Australians when George Gregan hesitated at the ruck and Carlos Spencer chipped into the corner for Howlett who easily won the race to the ball.
Spencer kicked a penalty to extend New Zealand's lead to 15-9 and the All Blacks were unlucky not to go even further ahead when Canterbury lock Chris Jack dropped the ball over the line on the stroke of halftime.
Spencer landed a second penalty shortly after the re-start but Flatley cut the margin back to six points with his fourth goal midway through the half.
Australia came close to scoring when replacement loose forward Owen Finegan was held up then first five-eighths Stephen Larkham slid into the posts but the video referee disallowed both claims for a try.
Spencer gave the All Blacks a nine-point cushion with his third penalty before the Wallabies mounted their late challenge.
Smith scored out wide with five minutes remaining when Gregan darted down the blindside and cleverly passed over Howlett's head to give the blindside flanker the space he needed to force his way over.
The Wallabies flung the ball around in the final few moments in the desperate hope of snatching victory but the All Blacks' defence held out.
- NZPA, REUTERS