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All Blacks power deals to Springboks

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Sportal.co.nz     11 Jul 2010     Getty Images

This was an All Black team determined to maintain its winning record at its rugby citadel, and to reverse the hat-trick of losses to South Africa last season.

So powerful was the intent, cohesion and drive mounted by the All Blacks, with captain and flanker Richie McCaw setting an example in leadership, the Springboks could not respond.

Lock Brad Thorn enjoyed possibly his finest game for the side and hooker Keven Mealamu's low-slung running a constant threat. Fullback Mils Muliaina and wing Joe Rokocoko also powerfully demonstrated their continuing worth to the side.

Then there was second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu providing constant headaches for the South African defence.

None of the tactics the South Africans tried appeared to work. Their kicks behind the All Blacks were never a threat and often returned with interest as Muliaina especially charged into the defence with relish. And the competitiveness New Zealand showed at the lineout demonstrated just how far the side has advanced in that area, to the point where it was taking ball from the South Africans

The All Blacks demonstrated superior cohesion and continuity to run in four tries to none

The All Blacks benefited from lock Bakkies Botha's transgression at a ruck five metres out from their line when a professional foul was ruled by referee Alan Lewis and he was sin-binned. It was unlikely to be his last confrontation with the law after an earlier head butt on halfback Jimmy Cowan went undetected. It followed a charge down of a Cowan kick by Botha which saw Cowan pull Botha's jersey as he attempted to chase.

The ace first five-eighths, Dan Carter and Morne Steyn, each missed an early attempt at goal, Carter from a penalty and Steyn from a dropped goal. But after six minutes Steyn landed his first goal when McCaw was penalised for detaching and then Carter responded from the Botha incident.

South Africa looked to use the high kick, but it back-fired with wing Joe Rokocoko calmly took a ball and fed fullback Mils Muliaina. He set off downfield and a huge hole opened. He linked with McCaw who then found centre Conrad Smith and he beat Victor Matfield's tackle to dive over in the corner. Carter's conversion gave New Zealand a 10-3 lead after 18 minutes.

South Africa attacked the All Blacks line but was pushed out and from the lineout No.8 Kieran Read took the ball and the line was cleared as McCaw set off downfield.

New Zealand pieced together several moves and it was when Nonu attempted a grubber kick which rebounded off his opposite Wynand Olivier back into Nonu's arms that the second try resulted. Nonu passed to Rokocoko and when he was held short of the line, Nonu regained the ball and ducked around the blindside to brush through the attempted tackles of wing Jean de Villiers and Steyn.

In the second half, the All Blacks found the penalty count climbing against them and Steyn converted that into 12 points from four penalty goals.

But so long as the All Blacks were scoring tries it mattered little.

The third came from another sustained period of attacking pick and go with lock Tom Donnelly and Thorn charging ahead before it was No.8 Kieran Read who took replacement halfback Piri Weepu's short pass to drive across in tackles to score.

The difference in attacking attitude between the sides was exemplified in the last minute try to prop Tony Woodcock. After a series of collapsed scrums a penalty was awarded, Read tapped and in the resulting driving maul the fourth, and bonus point, try was scored.

South Africa lacked cohesion in its backline with the threat of centre Jaque Fourie and the flying wing Bryan Habana contained superbly. Even the expected dominance of No.8 Pierre Spies failed to materialise as the visitors were effectively shut out of significant attacking opportunities.

Scorers:
New Zealand 32 (Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Kieran Read, Tony Woodcock tries; Dan Carter 3 con, 2 pen) South Africa 12 (Morne Steyn 4 pen). HT: 20-3