Australia were made to work unexpectedly hard for their record-equalling 16th consecutive victory in Friday's Anzac Test against a valiant New Zealand in Sydney.
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The Kangaroos were staring at a shock defeat when the unfancied Kiwis deservedly led 18-12 at the break to stun the 25,429 crowd at the Allianz Stadium.
However, the world champions struck back with three unanswered tries in the second half to secure an eighth successive win over New Zealand and match the all-time record of the so-called 'Invincibles' from 1979-83.
The Kiwis faded in the final quarter but coach Stephen Kearney will take great encouragement from the way his inexperienced side bounced back from their 34-2 hammering by Australia in the World Cup final in November.
Prop forward Jesse Bromwich, one of just five survivors from Old Trafford, looked determined to gain redemption and he gave his side the perfect start when he barged his way over for a sixth-minute try, with Shaun Johnson kicking the first of his three goals.
New Zealand took advantage of a shaky start by full-back Billy Slater but the Kangaroos looked to be getting on top when two tries in eight minutes saw them open up a 12-6 lead.
Second-rower Greg Bird forced his way over in the 11th minute to level the scores and Australia pounced on a handling error by full-back Peta Hiku - one of five debutants - to work winger Brett Morris over for his 22nd Test try.
Johnathan Thurston converted both to open up a six-point lead but New Zealand were in no mood to roll over in the way they did at Old Trafford.
Second rower Kevin Proctor's determined run for the line created a try for his Melbourne team-mate Tohu Harris, who in a key tactical switch started the match at stand-off, and then it was the turn of former Hull prop Sam Moa to take centre stage.
His crunching tackle on Bird enabled the Kiwis to gain possession 20 metres out and he proved unstoppable from 10 metres
to score his side's third try in the 26th minute.
Johnson made it 18-12 and the Kiwis demonstrated their determination to protect their precious lead when centre Dean Whare bundled the dangerous Greg Inglis over the touchline.
An upset remained on the cards as New Zealand continued to be competitive in the early stages of the second half but when the Kangaroos went up a gear their visitors struggled to go with them.
Slater dispelled doubts over the wisdom of his selection with back-to-back try assists as Morris went over unopposed for his second try and Inglis powered his way over on the hour to restore his side's lead.
Australia made sure eight minutes from the end when centre Josh Morris got scrum-half Cooper Cronk over for their sixth try, with Thurston kicking his sixth conversion.