There was spirit and fight to the end but the brutal truth was on the scoreboard at Auckland’s Eden Park where the All Blacks won the big moments and beat the Wallabies 33-25.
Jim Tucker looks at five things we learnt.
1 HUNTER PAISAMI’S FIRST HALF
The best player on Eden Park for the opening 40 minutes was Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami.
He was a 10-out-of-10 in the first half. He made two big turnover tackles on David Havili and Richie Mo’unga as well as running that super angle to set up the first try off a lineout play.
His trademark inside angle on the run shed Mo’unga and a fend got rid of Codie Taylor. It was hard-edged authority when the Wallabies needed it.
The impatient long pass that Mo’unga turned into a seven-pointer and two loose ball carries in the second half were a different story.
2 ANDREW KELLAWAY IN THE CAULDRON
Full credit to Kellaway. Many judges had fingers crossed over whether the winger would stand up against the All Blacks. He handled himself very well.
He caught all the kick-offs that the Kiwis targeted him with, his ball security was strong and he hustled winger Sevu Reece into touch with one tackle.
He positioned himself perfectly for his first Test try off the lineout move.
Nothing else really presented itself to him in attack. On the other occasion the ball came his way, he took the poor option of a kick ahead with support outside.
Kellaway’s composure did support the idea that if you pick a specialist winger with plenty of experience you have a far better chance of a solid display than rolling the dice on a raw talent.
3 WASTE EARLY, WILLPOWER LATE
Those early lost and messy lineouts stunted the Wallabies when they had early chances for momentum.
If you don’t turn your chances into points, you’re dead when the All Blacks have a high-powered 17-0 burst in 13 minutes.
Down 33-8 at the 63-minute mark, there have been previous Wallabies sides that have fractured and given up 50 points.
Not this one. There was great credit in those three late tries and being rewarded for sustained build-up, a well-executed grubber kick and a sharply worked lineout drive.
The game was lost by then but it was a good sign of character and also the fitness to finish games strongly which was evident against the French in July as well.
Don't fool yourself. The All Blacks swarmed in defence to force mistakes, they punched ahead with quick pick-and-drives and the ball handling in several plays was superb. That fast-snapped Aaron Smith pass made two tries look easy in his 100th Test. What a classy halfback.
They were clearly superior.
4 A SET MOVE
The Wallabies really didn’t pull a set play of substance in three Tests against France. When the Wallabies were beating the All Blacks either side of the turn of the century, All Black Andrew Mehrtens identified the smarts of the Wallabies as a point of difference. He was talking of sharp planned moves.
The long lineout throw to a charging inside centre was a ripper, especially in the wind.
There should be a long list of set plays in the Wallabies’ arsenal after all the time they have spent away from prying eyes in training hubs.
There some a reassuring steel, structure and purpose to the gold defence for long passages.
Unfortunately, when the Wallabies did miss a few one-on-one tackles, the heart rate went way up and the All Blacks advanced clinically.
Luckily, that stunning 95m Sevu Reece team try was whistled back for a forward pass because two missed tackles in that raid hurt.
Paisami, skipper Michael Hooper and flanker Rob Valetini were big in defence.