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South Africa 27-38 New Zealand, Rugby Championship
Richie McCaw hails improving All Blacks
October 6, 2013
Kieran Read was immense in Johannesburg © Getty Images
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Match Analysis

  • Man of the Match: It simply has to be Kieran Read. The No.8 made 14 tackles, missing none, managed to carry 71 metres with ball in hand and was just simply uniquely wonderful. He also grabbed a try and looks nailed on to be IRB World Player of the Year.
  • Key Moment: Beauden Barrett's 60th minute try secured the Championship for the All Blacks but did not guarantee them the win. However, it seemed to sap the Boks' energy and Read's score a few minutes later quashed any threat of a fightback.
  • Hero: A strange choice, by Nigel Owens. He looked knackered at the end and even went down with cramp. But you can't blame him. The match was played at a relentless pace and Owens did not put a foot wrong. If Wales fail to get to the 2015 World Cup, Owens will be there.
  • Villain: The All Blacks team manager who wrote Dane Coles instead of Keven Mealamu on the team sheet. Foolish.
  • Talking Point: How do you beat the All Blacks? They have suffered one loss in what seems like an eternity and that was when they were on their last legs against an England side who fought for their life. Whatever the Boks threw at them, the Kiwis responded in kind and did it in an even more brutal manner.
  • Play of the Game: In the best game we've seen in 2013, it is difficult to pick out one moment. But Ben Smith's opener was a brilliant piece of individual skill as he beat five tacklers to go over for the try that helped the Kiwis on their way. A very special talent.

Richie McCaw achieved a long-held personal goal when the All Blacks beat the Springboks 38-27 in Johannesburg, and he says his team will be driven to improve on their memorable performance to defend The Rugby Championship title with a five tries-to-four triumph at Ellis Park.

McCaw became just the fourth captain to lead the All Blacks to victory in 12 Tests against South Africa at the famous ground, and the first since 1997. "From a personal point of view, you dream of playing a Test here growing up," he said. "To get a win, when it's pretty rare, is pretty awesome."

Despite playing his 120th Test, it was McCaw's first at Ellis Park. He says the venue and the Rugby Championship crown being at stake provided only part of his world champion side's motivation. "The thing that keeps this team going is wanting to perform better and better. What better place to test yourself than at Ellis Park. That's why you play the game - for matches like tonight."

McCaw shrugged off a three-week absence caused by a knee injury with a relentless performance as part of the oldest loose forward trio New Zealand have fielded since 1995.

The 32-year-old openside made a game-high 16 tackles and was a constant menace at the breakdown menace. Blindside flanker Liam Messam, 29, scored two tries in a muscular display while No.8 Kieran Read, 27, was brilliant with ball in hand. They led a team tackling display that eclipsed the hosts, who had more possession and attacked with purpose but were exposed defensively. South Africa missed 30 out of 91 attempted tackles (33%) while New Zealand missed just 22 out of 156 (14%).

Kieran Read, named man of the match, said: "What a Test match. It was a pleasure to be part of, this place there is a bit of history about it and it certainly lived up to it tonight. The guys are shattered right now, it was a huge effort. The Springboks really brought it to us. To get a win up here is massive from our point of view."

Beauden Barrett's desperate attempt to tackle Willie le Roux illustrated the difference between the times © Getty Images
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South Africa captain Jean de Villiers lamented the Springboks' defence, saying it "wasn't up to it tonight".

"We would have liked to win the game but I think the rugby that was dished up tonight was a great advertisement for the game all around the world. I think the world sat up tonight and saw what these two teams can do. I think that we can be proud in the way that we played."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was "extremely proud" of his players, saying "to come here, after all the travel, and have a performance like that, you can only be proud". He said that Messam's second try, after the half-time hooter had sounded, was crucial not only in knocking South Africa but also for the lift it gave the All Blacks. "You need little moments like that in the game to keep you ticking over," he said.

The All Blacks won one of the best Tests in memory (video available only in Australia)
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