Awesome All Blacks complete clean sweep
October 6, 2012
New Zealand's Sam Whitelock powers over for his side's opening try
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Story of the Game
New Zealand wrapped up an unbeaten Rugby Championship campaign with a clinical 32-16 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg.
The All Blacks secured the title with victory over Argentina last weekend but there was no let up from Steve Hansen's charges against a Springboks side that was determined to deny them a clean sweep in the inaugural staging of the new-look battle for southern hemisphere supremacy.
A try from in-form winger Bryan Habana gave the hosts a deserved early lead but the resilient All Blacks bounced back with a try from lock Sam Whitelock that was followed by another for scrum-half Aaron Smith. The world champions still trailed 16-12 at half-time thanks to Elton Jantjies' first Test points but they wrestled back control of the contest with 20 unanswered points after the break with tries from midfield duo Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith hammering home the All Blacks' dominance.
In an impressive show of strength, the All Blacks were also able to weather the loss of fullback Israel Dagg to a second half yellow card as the Boks floundered with the result a sixth consecutive win in the competition and a record 100th Test victory for captain Richie McCaw.
Ahead of the game South Africa captain Jean de Villiers backed rookie fly-half Johan Goosen to handle the pressure, his predecessor Morne Steyn having had a terrible day with the boot when the two sides met in Dunedin three weeks ago. But Goosen did not get off to the best of starts, missing two early penalties, the second rebounding off a post.
But the Springboks got the opening try of the match in the 12th minute as Habana took a pass from De Villiers to run in unchallenged after a loose ball in midfield proved elusive for All Blacks. Goosen this time made no mistake with his kick as the hosts led 7-0.
The fly-half appeared to be finding his range and knocked over a penalty before the All Blacks got on the board in the 25th minute thanks to a superb counter attack. The Boks missed touch with a clearance and their rivals immediately capitalised by moving the ball out to the left where No.8 Kieran Read put Whitelock away and powerful second row was able to ride tackles from Adriaan Strauss and Goosen on his way to the line.
Carter missed the conversion, but the visitors soon had their second try, Habana missing an interception attempt and Hosea Gear streaking clear before offloading to Aaron Smith, who scored under the posts.
Carter's conversion put the All Blacks 12-10 in front but Jantjies, on for an injured Goosen, knocked over a penalty to put the hosts back in front by one and did it again on the stroke of half-time.
The second half was all New Zealand, though, and they started it as they meant to go on, Nonu touching down after the All Blacks attacked straight after the restart and Carter adding the extras. Jantjies missed two quick-fire penalties as the Boks' kicking problems mounted, and their opponents took advantage with a fourth try in the 52nd minute.
Conrad Smith ghosted through a gap to touch down, with Carter's conversion making it 26-16 to the All Blacks. Carter extended his side's lead with a drop-goal in the 63rd minute.
The hosts were thrown a lifeline when Dagg was sin-binned for slowing down the ball, but the one-way traffic toward the South Africa line continued.
A Carter penalty with nine minutes to go took his tally to 11 and the New Zealand lead to 16, and Aaron Cruden even had time to miss a late three-pointer as the visitors closed out a convincing win.
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