Australia outscored their opponents four tries to three in a thrilling encounter played under the IRB's Experimental Law Variations being trialled throughout the Tri Nations.
While the Wallabies continued to show improvement with the ball in hand in a match offering numerous attacking opportunities, it was his players' application without the ball which Deans found most pleasing.
"I'm very proud of the lads," he said. "A lot was asked of them. We didn't have a lot of possession there for long periods, we had to defend for long periods, but they did that well and created turnovers.
"When the All Blacks scored before half-time and then came back out and scored again that was a pretty tough mental test but the guys got up and responded and finished well."
Deans warned his players it will be a tougher assignment next weekend with New Zealand looking to amend for the last two defeats - their first consecutive Test failures since 2004.
"It'll be a different contest (in Auckland on Saturday). We'll look at the detail of this one and second guess each other in terms of what will be involved," Deans added.
"But just the context of being in Auckland, the All Blacks won't want to go down again.
"You've got Richie (McCaw) re-entering the fold so it's going to be another notch up again. It's going to be a good encounter."
Disappointed New Zealand coach Graham Henry was gracious in defeat and paid tribute to Deans and his troops.
"I'd like to firstly congratulate Australia, I thought they played exceptionally well for 80 minutes," Henry said.
"We're disappointed, obviously. We had some opportunities in the first half which we didn't convert which may have made a bit of a difference.
"Our guys showed a lot of ability and courage to come back to (lead) 19-17, so we were pretty pleased with that.
"So they've shown some ability and some character to do that and as I say the last 30 minutes we couldn't hold on to the ball."