Wallabies again thwart All Blacks' record bid
Australian Wallabies captain Michael Hooper (C-R) shakes hands with New Zealand All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith after their rugby union Test match in Sydney, on August 16, 2014 - by William West
The Australians fought back from 9-3 down at halftime to have the upper hand in the final stages but were unable to deliver the killer blow against the heroic defending Kiwis in Sydney on Saturday.
The draw in the Rugby Championship opener meant the mighty New Zealanders were unable to better the 17-Test winning runs of the 1965-69 All Blacks and 1997-98 Springboks.
It is not the first time the Wallabies have denied the All Blacks from claiming the record.
Two years ago in Brisbane the Wallabies held the All Blacks to an 18-18 draw ending a 16-match unbeaten run, while in Hong Kong in 2010 Australia beat New Zealand 26-24 to halt a 15-match winning streak.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was sanguine about the latest missed opportunity, in a draw that skipper Richie McCaw described as "hollow."
"The record has been talked a lot by a lot of people but for us the record is the outcome of winning games," Hansen said after Saturday's match.
"And how do we feel about not winning the game: yeah, gutted, because we came here to win."
The All Blacks showed their customary steely character with a committed defensive performance in the second half to prevent an Australian victory despite playing for 20 minutes with 14 men through the sin-binning of Wyatt Crockett and Beauden Barrett.
"It's certainly a bit of a hollow feeling," McCaw said of the draw.
"You come to win and it didn't happen and probably at the end of the day we had the better of the first 30 minutes in the first half and then we struggled to play a lot of rugby after that for various reasons.
"The good thing is that we have another crack next week in Auckland so we will certainly keep some edge at training."
- 'Australia have always been a threat' -
Hansen paid tribute to his players in the greasy, wet conditions at Sydney's Olympic stadium.
"I congratulate Australia on their performance and I would like to say how proud I am of my team," he said.
"Although we made a lot of mistakes at times and probably didn't play the way we like to, we did defend for long periods of time and we showed a lot of heart and courage.
"I think a lot of other teams would have crumbled under the pressure we were under.
"Playing one of the best sides in the world with only 14 men for 20 minutes, it's hard work."
The match was try-less with rival fly-halves Aaron Cruden and Kurtley Beale each kicking four penalties.
The Rugby Championship Test, which also doubled as a Bledisloe Cup match, means that the Wallabies must now win both the remaining games in Auckland next week and in Brisbane on October 18 to win back the trans-Tasman trophy for the first time since 2002.
"If we win in Auckland next week we would have put that away, so that's another outcome that comes with performing," Hansen said.
"We only have to win one of the next two games that we play Australia so that does give us the advantage.
"Australia have always been a genuine threat because they are like us, they love their sport, they're tough, they're competitors and if you look over the last 11 years there hasn't been too many easy games.
"Auckland (next week) will be just the same. We'll prepare accordingly and hopefully get the job done."