In a contest which featured 12 successful penalties and no tries, the Wallabies salvaged some pride and ensured they were not whitewashed in this year's Bledisloe Cup.
Mike Harris kicked all but three of the hosts' points while the whole of the All Blacks' tally was booted by Dan Carter, who sent a last-gasp drop goal attempt wide right following a dramatic period of added time.
Australia made a bright start and took the lead through a Harris penalty, but the All Blacks hit back soon after as Carter slotted over two penalties of his own.
After Scott Higginbotham escaped punishment for a scrap with All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, the home side turned things around as two three-pointers from Harris edged them back in front.
New Zealand prop Tony Woodcock was then given a yellow card on the stroke of half-time and Harris slotted over the subsequent penalty to make it 12-6 at the break.
As Woodcock returned Kurtley Beale nailed a huge penalty to make it 15-6 but Carter immediately cancelled that score out with a much simpler attempt and then reduced the gap to three points with another successful kick from the tee.
Meanwhile, Australia flanker Mike Hooper had been sin-binned for a late tackle and shortly after his return Carter levelled the scores with another penalty.
And with 10 minutes remaining Adam Ashley-Cooper spilled a routine high ball, Nick Phipps recovered the loose ball from an offside position and Carter was on target with the resulting penalty.
But Australia forced another penalty of their own which Harris converted to make it 18-18 late on, before Carter missed his drop-goal attempt in the 86th minute.
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