McCaw hails comeback for landmark win
October 6, 2012
Richie McCaw (right) and Keven Mealamu took New Zealand's unbeaten run to 16 matches with a win over South Africa © Getty Images
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw hailed his side's ability to put a poor first half behind them and set the seal on their Rugby Championship title with a 32-16 win against South Africa.
The All Blacks went in at half-time 16-12 behind after their ill-discipline had allowed the Springboks to kick three penalties after Bryan Habana had scored an early try that Johan Goosen converted. Ma'a Nonu touched down for a try immediately after half-time, his centre partner Conrad Smith added a second midway through the half to wrap up the win, while Dan Carter contributed 10 points with two conversions, a penalty and drop goal. It was McCaw's 100th Test win and means New Zealand have now gone 16 matches undefeated.
"When the set pieces work well it is nice that all the hard work during the week gets a reward," McCaw said. "You have to take your opportunities in these big tests. We were happy to win the Championships in Argentina last week, but we knew the big challenge was to come. It is hugely satisfying to get a win here."
For McCaw's opposite number, Jean de Villiers, the loss means that the Springboks have now won four Tests, drawn two and lost three since he became captain and Heyneke Meyer became head coach. He was left to rue Nonu's try that caught South Africa cold, galvanised New Zealand and gave the All Blacks the momentum to go on and win the Test.
"We know that they have a good defensive system, but we just kept chipping away at them," he said. "We had our opportunities, but we were not able to capitalise. We are improving, but we came up against a quality side in New Zealand."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September