All Blacks claim 2013 Rugby Championship
Sportal.co.nz 06 Oct 2013 Getty Images
While the attacking play was unrelenting throughout, it was the defence of the All Blacks that spelled the difference. Rarely in extensive periods on their own line did the All Blacks concede and they proved superior in their ability to create, and take, chances.
Ultimately, it was the South Africans' failure in the kicking game, both giving and taking that came undone to provide the All Blacks with their opportunities.
In a game which took its toll in injuries there were many moments of individual brilliance: Liam Messam's two tries, Beauden Barrett's superb try to secure the four-try bonus point, and his covering tackle to save a late South African try, turnover work by Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick, set-up play by Sam Whitelock and Andrew Hore and another brilliant try to Ben Smith.
That was just for the All Blacks. The Springboks had their own heroes: two-try scorer Bryan Habana, captain Jean de Villiers who scored a fine try of his own, No.8 Duane Vermeulen's line break, flanker Francois Louw's behind the tacklers' pass and loose forward Siya Kolisi's defence to deny Nonu a try.
It was the most memorable of matches with two yellow cards for the All Blacks, Liam Messam and Ben Franks and a pre-match secretarial error which had Keven Mealamu listed on the team sheet ahead of Dane Coles.
It had everything.
Morne Steyn opened the scoring in the 10th minute when the All Blacks were penalised while defending.
But the repeated failure to secure re-start ball saw prop Charlie Faumuina charge ahead with the ball. The All Blacks moved the ball to the flank where quick hands from hooker Andrew Hore created time and space for Read.
The star forward of the year beat flanker Willem Alberts' tackle and then back-handed a pass to Ben Smith. He beat Habana, cut in-field, and then fended off Steyn to score a superb try in the 11th minute.
However, Habana had some magic of his own in story and scored two tries, both of them stunning affairs in the 17th and 19th minutes.
The first came after No. 8 Duane Vermeulen took a gap between Faumuina and Ma'a Nonu and then threw a long pass to Habana who raced in and around behind the posts.
Then a superb pass around a defender by flanker Francois Louw gave Habana room again. This time he chipped ahead, collected the bouncing ball, and scored to claim a 15-7 lead.
It was just as well because moments later in fielding a high kick he tore a hamstring and had to leave the field.
Penalties got New Zealand back into South African territory and a strong run down the sideline by wing Julian Savea created a chance and as the ball was moved lock Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith took the ball ahead and from the ruck flanker Liam Messam was driven over the line by Retallick to score.
South Africa lost Alberts to a neck injury and as the Springboks looked to get out of their territory, which they had dominated with 63 percent during the half, Reid turned ball over in a ruck and with the half-time hooter having gone New Zealand moved the ball.
It was a typical All Blacks try with ball handling by the tight forwards setting up a chance which Messam took running back on the angle to cross for the try.
South Africa mounted a wave of attacks at the All Blacks line at the start of the second half and when Messam was sin-binned at a ruck in front of the posts, the South Africans took the quick tap and there was room for wing Willie le Roux to get over.
New Zealand went close after a Savea run down the sideline and from the resulting play Nonu went close but was held up by replacement flanker Siya Kalisi.
Back downfield a chargedown of a New Zealand clearing kick saw them call a short lineout. However, they failed to secure the ball and Springbok captain and second five-eighths Jean de Villiers charged over to reclaim the lead 27-24.
A mistake by fullback Zane Kirchner who kicked the ball out on the full from the 22m area after the ball had been played back. That allowed the All Blacks to secure the ball and it was replacement first five-eighths Beauden Barrett who scored a superb individual try to secure the bonus point and the Championship.
The issue was put beyond doubt in the 70th minute when captain Richie McCaw combined with Savea and Read for the latter to score.
South Africa 27 (Bryan Habana 2, Willie le Roux, Jean de Villiers tries; Morne Steyn 2 con, pen) New Zealand 38 (Ben Smith, Liam Messam 2, Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read tries; Aaron Cruden 3 con; Beauden Barrett 2 con, pen). HT: 15-21
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