All Blacks claim classic Test from South Africa

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Lynn McConnell     08 Oct 2017     Getty Images

The game could not have been of greater contrast to the Albany fiasco which saw them beaten 57-0 and having to contain a rampant South Africa who had their talisman player, hooker Malcolm Marx score a deserved try to get his side within a point two minutes from the end.

Thumping defence from both sides marked the encounter which had all the hallmarks of the rivalry between the two great nations and which breathed life back into South African expectations of their side.

A late red card to replacement Springbok mid-field back Damian de Allende when he late-charged Lima Sopoaga after he attempted a dropped goal finally gave the All Blacks their winning advantage when he kicked the resulting penalty goal to take them out to an eight-point margin that South Africa couldn't pull back.

It was the All Blacks' ability to take chances when they came that ultimately provided the win. A lineout steal, in the 68th minute saw them pin South Africa in their 22m area. When they kicked for clearance the ball fell to David Havili, the replacement at fullback.

He ran across field and found Damian McKenzie, now playing on the right wing and he used his speed superbly to go through a gap and race away for a try.

Inspiring play from Marx, a player cut from the classic Springbok mould battling consistently at the breakdown and providing impetus was rewarded when he set up a 65th minute try for replacement flanker Jean Luc du Preez.

The Springboks were also given plenty to ponder when Handre Pollard replaced Elton Jantjies at first five-eighths. There was an immediate change in distribution with him taking the ball to the line and creating the chance which led to du Preez's try, fed in by none other than Marx.

South Africa were much more physical at the breakdown, contesting everything and demanding sure defence from the All Blacks.

Opportunities came for the All Blacks but they were not quite as efficient in executing them in the face of desperate South African defence.

Their first chance came when South African halfback Ross Cronje attempted a short kick over the top of the All Blacks scrum but McKenzie took the ball and the ball was moved quickly to wing Rieko Ioane's flank. He rounded Jantjies and headed for the goal-line, stepping inside but grounded just short and losing the ball as he attempted to place it over the line.

New Zealand launched other sweeping counter attacks, one initiated from their own goal-line when McKenzie tackled Cronje and secured the ball to let wing Nehe Milne-Skudder loose down the sideline and taking play up to the Springboks' line and twice with Ioane getting free down his flank.

Twice second five-eighths Sonny Bill Williams took the ball towards the line but was penalised each time with Marx over the ball to contest it both times.

Referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty against the All Blacks scrum at the first engagement but took greater interest to Kane Hames' loosehead side in subsequent scrums and it was the New Zealander who emerged on the right side of the law.

South Africa did make more of an effort to keep the ball in hand with lock and skipper Eben Etzebeth, and prop Steven Kitshoff prominent among the forwards taking it ahead while of the backs second five-eighths Jan Serfontein was always a handful.

However, the break finally came when Jantjies had an attempted midfield kick charged down by Beauden Barrett and he kicked it forward and got into a foot race towards the goal-line with centre Jesse Kriel. They both missed the ball over the line and it was centre Ryan Crotty coming in afterwards who was ruled to have grounded the ball with his stomach for the 32nd minute try.

After the play Barrett was taken from the field for an HIA and while he passed he didn't return immediately and it was decided at half-time that he wouldn't resume.

There was an extraordinary end to the first half which saw 10 extra minutes of referee's time played. During that the All Blacks lost Milner-Skudder to a shoulder injury when he was tackled by rival wing Courtnall Skosan, who landed on top of him. But twice winning penalties in the period the Springboks launched a strong assault at the All Blacks' line before it was Hames who secured the ball at the tackle and won the penalty which ended the half.

South Africa resumed with a vengeance making an 18-phase start to the half which ended with Cronje touching the ball down at the base of the All Blacks' posts for the Springboks to secure the lead.

New Zealand rang the changes early in the second half with a complete front row substitution.

It was later in the half when the Springboks instituted their changes that they attempted to maintain the rate at which they were playing that the mistake was made when Cronje attempted a pass to Skosan. It fell short and Ioane was perfectly placed to take advantage, make room and then clear out on an 80-metre race to the line.

Scorers: South Africa 24 (Ross Cronje, Jean Luc du Preez tries; Elton Jantjies con, pen; Handre Pollard con) New Zealand 25 (Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie tries; Beauden Barrett pen; Lima Sopoaga 2 con). HT: 3-8