The All Blacks proved too composed yet again as they maintained their impeccable home record with a hard-fought 14-10 victory over the Springboks in Wellington. It was a low scoring, tough Test match but still managed to provide two outstanding tries.
It was another epic battle between the two sides, with the visitors coming close in the dying minutes after surge after surge at the line, but the home side’s composure and incredible defence managed to hold them out and eventually get the ball into touch with time up.
Earlier in the match the Springboks had scored first through a lovely backline move off a lineout, with winger Cornal Hendricks flying through a gap that young Handre Pollard drew open.
South Africa went into the half with the lead but later it was the turn of that superhuman number eight, Kieran Read, to produce another unbelievable offload, putting skipper McCaw in at the corner.
With the win, New Zealand have extended their lead at the top of the IRB World Rankings. A fifteen point or more win for the visitors would have taken them to number one, but as it is, the World Champions have a commanding five point lead, with Australia in third place.
It wasn’t to be a fairytale 100th Test match for Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, but some consolation may be the way that McCaw and the New Zealand Rugby Union honoured him post match with an official capping process and sincere words from the All Black captain.
It was a lovely moment and one that only serves to strengthen the bond that these two old foes have, and serves to solidify the age old rugby mantra of respect, both on and off the field.
On the injury front, Ruan Pienaar will play no further part in the tournament after damaging his medial cruciate ligament, and for the All Blacks, Ma’a Nonu left the field with what has turned out to be a broken arm. He’ll be out for the rest of the season.