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McCaw secures tough Test win with try

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Lynn McConnell     26 Jul 2015     Getty Images

Having chosen to kick a penalty to the corner, McCaw secured the ball as the All Blacks opened a space in the middle of the lineout allowing him to crash through halfback Ruan Pienaar for the try.

Debut first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga, who had an outstanding first game for the All Blacks, landed the conversion and then added a last-minute penalty goal to give New Zealand a seven-point advantage while securing 12 points for himself.

It was a bruising game of outstanding intensity, typical of the recent games played between the old rivals on the same ground in recent years. South Africa scored two good tries to pressure them, but the All Blacks spirit showed through.

It took the All Blacks 39 minutes to break the shackles of the smothering Springbok tackling, but when they got their chance they acted decisively.

A kick-ahead from their 22m area saw wing Cornal Hendricks tackled and the ball turned over. It was quickly cleared where lock James Broadhurst flung a long pass to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu. His inpass to Sopoaga allowed him to open up the home defences.

He poured on the speed in a superb break and he lobbed an overhand pass to win Ben Smith who raced away to score the try which allowed Sopoaga to level the scores with his conversion.

South Africa made the most of a penalty just outside their 22m area early in the second half to set up a chance. First five-eighths Handre Pollard running to his right linked with centre Jesse Kriel whose line was acute enough threaded the needle to split New Zealand's veteran pairing of Nonu and centre Conrad Smith and score a fine try.

But anything South Africa could do hooker Dane Coles could do better. He ran off a similarly executed pass by replacement second five-eighths Malakai Fekitoa to beat the Springbok tacklers to score.

New Zealand had an unsettled period midway through the second half. South Africa had an extended period on their line, especially after replacement lock Sam Whitelock was sin-binned in the 59th minute. Lock Lode de Jager went close to scoring, but then when prop Vincent Koch was forced to leave the field with a cut, Golden Oldies scrums were called for. That appeared to serve New Zealand better than it did South Africa.

Earlier, in attempting to move the ball around at speed, the All Blacks conceded the first mistake after 10 minutes when fullback Israel Dagg attempted a quick clearance to No.8 Kieran Read from a kicking exchange. However, Read, in mid-field, found hooker Bismarck du Plessis arriving at the same time as the ball.

In the tackle the ball was won by South Africa and No.8 Schalk Burger threw a long pass to Kriel who in-passed to fullback Willie le Roux who sped through a gap to score the first try of the game.

Strong South African defensive play put pressure on the All Blacks' ability to get their flow going, especially at the breakdown where the tactic of playing two openside flankers paid dividends during the first half.

South Africa won 55 breakdowns in the first half to 36 for New Zealand while the turnovers favoured the home team 5-3.

Halfback Aaron Smith had his hands full several times attempting to clear ball while hooker Bismarck du Plessis was dangerous in securing ball at the breakdown.

Second five-eighths Damian de Allende demonstrated why he has a growing reputation with some strong, straight running which tested the All Blacks' defensive efforts.

Piutau was named man of the match and had an outstanding game on the left wing making one try saving covering take early in the second half, but proving sound under the high kick and in linking play to set up the few All Blacks attacking chances in the first half.

Scorers: South Africa 20 (Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel tries; Handre Pollard 2 con, 2 pen) New Zealand 27 (Ben Smith, Dane Coles, Richie McCaw tries; Lima Sopoaga 3 con, 2 pen). HT: 10-10