Displaying class, composure and confidence the All Blacks completed a clean sweep of the The Rugby Championship with a 32-16 win over South Africa in Soweto.
Driven by a superb display from left-wing Hosea Gear, who had a hand in three of the first four All Blacks tries, the side overcame an indifferent first half where they were penalised seven times, and denied much of the possession to go to the break 12-16 down, and then score 20 unanswered points in the second half.
No.8 Kieran Read demonstrated why he is the world’s best No.8 with a game which highlighted his ability to be in the right place at the right time, while his counterpart and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw celebrated his 100th Test victory with another outstanding display of leadership in the face of close attention from referee Alain Rolland. But it still wasn’t enough to contain the belligerent flanker.
As the game opened up in the second half, first five-eighths Dan Carter moved from being the calm controller to the playmaker, even snapping over his sixth dropped goal in Tests.
The All Blacks ability to flick a switch was demonstrated at the start of the second half.
Lock Brodie Retallick took the kick-off to the half and the ball was moved through the backline where fullback Israel Dagg took the gap and linked to No.8 to Kieran Read outside him. He charged downfield and had options either side before in-passing to second five-eighths Ma’a Nonu who scored 19 seconds into the half
After two strange refereeing decisions, one which saw the ball ruled out on the full from a 22m restart when the ball clearly touched Read before going out, and a penalty against McCaw as the tackler trying to extricate himself from the ruck, the All Blacks survived when Jantjies’ penalty goal attempt hit the posts.
The All Blacks ran the ball back out with Gear making vital metres. Then from a scrum in the South African 22m, Gear was well positioned to take the ball and send it on for Carter to feed centre Conrad Smith into the gap and over for the bonus point try.