New Zealand have heaped more pain on Australia with another gritty comeback win over the Wallabies in Saturday’s historic Bledisloe Cup Test at Hong Kong Stadium.

Aided in no small way by some generous refereeing from Irishman Alan Lewis – who did his best to spoil the spectacle for the near-sellout crowd of 39,682 – the All Blacks rallied from 14-9 down at half-time to post a hard-earned 19-14 victory.

Lewis hammered Australia, at one point awarding New Zealand 11 penalties to two – including seven in a row in the first half – and sharp-shooting Dan Carter took full advantage to slot three penalty goals which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides.

The Wallabies were gallant in defeat, playing some brilliant expansive rugby, particularly before the break, despite the humid and wet conditions which greeted the first-ever Bledisloe Cup clash contested outside of Australasia.

Alas, a superb tryscoring double from winger Drew Mitchell and some outstanding individual displays, most notably from five-eighth Matt Giteau, back-rowers George Smith and Richard Brown and hooker Stephen Moore, were not enough to see the Wallabies home.

After recovering from 17-7 down to clinch the Bledisloe Cup, as well as the Tri Nations trophy, for another year with a 28-24 triumph over Australia in Brisbane in September, the All Blacks completed a 3-1 series win over the Wallabies with tonight’s success.

Mitchell’s two strikes in the seventh and 26th minutes, both converted by Giteau, were the only tries of an entertaining first half.

But Carter’s three penalty goals had the All Blacks ominously placed for a second-half fightback.

The All Blacks caught the Wallabies napping just 90 seconds after the interval when powerful winger Sitiveni Sivivatu crossed in the left-hand corner to tie the game up at 14-14.

The enthusiastic crowd then began to jeer the pedantic referee when he continued to stop play and, somewhat appropriately, he looked to have missed a forward pass from Sivivatu which set up the winning try for AllBlacks captain Richie McCaw in the 64th minute.

Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock was disappointed that his team had let another lead slip against the All Blacks.

“Unfortunately we did not get the win but I think the boys really dug deep and I was very proud of the effort,” he said.

“I think the All Blacks team are an outstanding team and if you give them an inch they will take it advantage of it and you saw that in the second half.”

He felt the team “was on track” and told his teammates to keep their “chins up” for the European leg.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry praised his outfit for shutting out the Wallabies in the second half.

“They have a huge backbone this team and they know how to hang in there to win rugby games,” he said.