Rugby: Australia rue missed opportunities after All Blacks draw

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia were left to rue opportunities squandered against New Zealand, after playing out a draw that means the Wallabies must secure their first victory away from home against their arch rivals in 13 years to avoid another Bledisloe Cup defeat.

Australia held New Zealand to a 12-12 draw in their Rugby Championship opener on Saturday to prevent the All Blacks from claiming a world-record 18th consecutive win.

The Wallabies, however, were left wondering how they failed to win a game they dominated in all but the scoreline - having enjoyed greater possession, more metres with ball in hand and more territory.

"We wanted to win the game," said Australia coach Ewen McKenzie. "All our preparation was about winning, we don't go out there to have draws so it is a bit of a hollow outcome in that sense."

Australia captain Michael Hooper shared his coach's disappointment. "There were a few incidences there where we were just a few meters out, different things could happen, we could have got that try there and it's a different game," he said.

They twice failed to capitalise on a one-man advantage after New Zealand prop Wyatt Crockett was sin-binned just before half-time and replacement back Beauden Barrett was given a yellow card with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Hooper decided against kicking for goal on a number of occasions before half-time, allowing New Zealand to go into the break with a 9-3 lead.

"We felt like we were getting the upper hand. They had a card. I thought we could get the ascendancy there," he said.

McKenzie backed the decision, but had fly-half Kurtley Beale slotted any of the three attempts, Australia may have secured their first victory over New Zealand since 2011.

Australia will now have to beat New Zealand next week to have any chance of securing the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

Australia last beat New Zealand away from home in 2001.

The match is at Auckland's Eden Park, a venue where the All Blacks have not tasted defeat in 20 years, while a third clash outside the Rugby Championship will be played later in the season.

Despite the missed opportunity, Hooper said the Wallabies can take heart in pushing the world champions so close.

"It is certainly a good challenge and we certainly have some momentum heading into it. It is a fantastic opportunity," he said.

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