The Qantas Wallabies suffered a second successive defeat to New Zealand after falling 29-9 in a heated battle at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The men in gold came out with renewed energy and commitment following their record defeat in Sydney a week prior, matching the All Blacks physically through the opening exchanges.
In a fiery first half, Australia set the tone with their defensive aggression and remained in the thick of the contest throughout the forty minutes despite conceding a double to New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg.
The All Blacks opened the scoring in the 8th minute when Aaron Smith slipped through a pair of Wallabies defenders and found Dagg on the outside to score in the right corner.
The two sides exchanged penalties until Dagg slid over in almost the identical spot on the field, this time finishing off a sizzling break from flyhalf Beauden Barrett.
As had happened in Sydney, the Wallabies again ran into early injury trouble with veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper going off in the 16th minute with a head knock after getting into an awkward position in an attempted tackle on Dane Coles.
With Ashley-Cooper ruled out of the contest, Melbourne Rebels Reece Hodge ran out for his Test debut and would soon be in the thick of the action.
Hodge, known for his long-range kicking ability, stepped up to a 53 metre penalty goal shot and nailed it with his first attempt in Test Rugby. The booming strike from the new cap in the 35th minute narrowed the gap to 15-9 in favour of the home side, where it would remain until the break.
In a second half performance which mirrored the first in many ways, the All Blacks came away with an early strike when Julian Savea crossed out wide on the back of some slick passing after Dagg had snatched an attacking high ball.
The Wallabies were forced to dig deep defensively as the home side continued to mount pressure over the ensuing ten minutes of play, but weight of possession close to the line eventually told as Sam Cane barged over for New Zealand’s fourth try of the match.
Nick Phipps looked as though he had crossed for his second five-pointer in as many matches with the clock ticking down, although he was unable to maintain possession over the line and was denied on the Wallabies only genuine try-scoring opportunity of the night.
Despite the much-improved effort by the Australians, they were unable to find the opposition tryline, and when the full time whistle was blown, the All Blacks had retained the Bledisloe Cup with a 29-9 victory.