By Liam Napier in Brisbane

Desperation is an underrated current in sport. At Suncorp Stadium, venue of modern-era cliffhangers, the Wallabies had it in spades.

They weren't about to be heartbroken twice in two months. They refused to suffer an eight successive loss to the All Blacks.

They dove on loose ball; snaffled turnovers at crucial times and Reece Hodge knocked over clutch long-range kicks.


Their defence held firm at the death in their own 22. They wanted this more, and deserve this result.

Despite Bernard Foley attempting to choke once again, missing three kicks and dropping the ball cold with six minutes left, somehow the Wallabies hung on. This time, unlike Dunedin, the rugby gods were on their side.

Not even some late Sonny Bill Williams magic - a brilliant spin, twist and offload to set up Rieko Ioane - could deny them.

Credit where credit is due. The Wallabies are far from the finished product but this will vindicate improvements and confidence within their group, and add fuel to the trans-Tasman fire. They don't have the Bledisloe Cup - haven't for 15 years - but they are moving in the right direction.

Perspective is needed when assessing these All Blacks. Six front-liners are missing, including two of the best in Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick.

But they will still be immensely disappointed to lose their second match this year, coming on the back of the loss to the British and Irish Lions in Wellington.

In wet, slippery conditions the All Blacks clearly arrived with a plan to play territory. Aaron Smith kicked three times in the opening two-and-a-half minutes with great success but some of Lima Sopoaga's short options did not come off. Collectively, they probably kicked away too much ball.

Partly due to this approach the All Blacks attack failed to fire. They were strangely conservative from the back, reluctant to counter. The backline struggled to gel, appearing rushed for time, space and therefore making mistakes. Sopoaga felt the brunt of this with his intercept pass to Hodge after Smith put him under pressure with a switch in direction. Ryan Crotty also made a couple of uncharacteristic errors.

Defence was a different story. To a man, the All Blacks were offensively aggressive, laying on a number of big hits. Williams dropped Kurtley Beale; Sam Cane, who had a huge match, crunched Sean McMahon. Waisake Naholo, admittedly in not a fair fight, whacked Will Genia. Kieran Read threw himself at the breakdown. Ofa Tu'ungafasi knocked Bernard Foley into next week. Liam Squire chimed in, too. The Wallabies will wake up sore but clearly chuffed tomorrow, knowing there is no one enforcer in this All Blacks team.

Williams had another strong defensive match, ripping the ball clean on one occasion.

As the match wore on, though, the All Blacks began to look tired and fall off too many tackles, particularly on the edges where Israel Folau caused major problems. They were also vulnerable under high ball at times - McKenzie and Naholo dropping one each. The scrum had issues and they also got on the wrong side of referee Wayne Barnes.

Other than his kicking game Smith again proved his class with a stunning piece of vision to skip Read and put Naholo in for the All Blacks first try. He also harassed Genia all night. But his Highlanders first-five didn't enjoy his finest outing in his second test start - his first for over two years.

Comparisons to Barrett will never be kind but Sopoaga didn't challenge the line nearly as much. When McKenzie came into line at first receiver it was evident Sopoaga doesn't possess the same speed to beat an opponent on the outside like Barrett does so seamlessly, so often.

Sopoaga's line kicking from penalties was sound but this was not the statement performance he sought. It was not a great surprise to see him replaced after 60 minutes with McKenzie switched to No 10.

The next point of call for both these teams is their respective end of year tours. And the north may have some tougher challenges than they were expecting just a few short months ago.