Richie McCaw inspires All Blacks to comeback victory against Springboks
New Zealand Skipper Richie McCaw scored the winning try on his last trip to South Africa as the All Blacks narrowly overcame their greatest rivals 27-20 at Ellis Park on Saturday
The pair have been the two top-ranked teams in the world for three years, and put on a pulsating spectacle of rugby in Johannesburg, with the All Blacks three tries coming from Ben Smith, Dane Coles and Captain McCaw.
McCaw, who was celebrating his record 150th cap, touched down the crucial score in the 77th minute to secure New Zealand continue to lead the way in this years shortened Rugby Championship.
Scores from Willie Le Roux and Jesse Kriel had put the Springboks into the lead, but it was de Ja Vu for the hosts as they conceded another late try for the second consecutive week.
The game was played at a frantic pace from the kick-off with New Zealand initially taking the lead when Lima Sopoago got his Test debut off to the perfect start by kicking a penalty within three minutes.
However, the try-scoring was opened by the Springboks when Kriel found fullback Le Roux on his inside to touch down. Handre Pollard converted the extras before adding a penalty to give the hosts a 10-3 lead.
Nevertheless, one minute from half-time McCaw superbly turned the ball over and Sopoaga burst before providing an outstanding long pass to Ben Smith, who sped in to touch down in the corner for his 17th Test try for the All blacks.
And the fly-half added the conversion to leave the game evenly poised at the break following a brilliant first-half, 10-10.
The second half started at the same wild pace, and within five second-half minutes South Africa regained their lead.
Kriel, who scored on his debut last week against Australia, received a great pass from Pollard before bursting through New Zealand’s experienced centre partnership of Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu to score. And Pollard added the extras again.
But three minutes it was all-square again when hard-running hooker Coles touched down under the posts, and Sopoaga converted to level things up again, 17-17.
South Africa then took the game to the All Blacks, eventually winning a penalty, which Pollard sent over the posts to send the hosts in front, 20-17.
Things went from bad to worse for the All Blacks soon after as Sam Whitelock was shown yellow for slowing the ball down, but even with the man advantage the Springboks failed to close the game out.
New Zealand, back up to their full line-up, turned down a shot of goal in the 77th minute and went for the corner.
They were then rewarded in the greatest conceivable way for their bravery as captain fantastic McCaw bulldozed his way over from the lineout.
Sopoaga converted to make it 24-20 and then nailed another penalty on the hooter as the All Blacks showed South Africa how to finish a game.
RUCK’s Man of the match- Richie McCaw
The New Zealand all-action Captain put in another phenomenal performance to secure his 124th victory in an All Black jersey. He has cemented himself as one of the best players in the history of Rugby Union already but Steve Hansen will know the Skippers influence and ability will be crucial to New Zealand’s World Cup ambitions.
RUCK’s Special mention- Jesse Kriel
After a superb debut last weekend Jesse Kriel again displayed that he is ready for Test rugby with another fantastic performance. Despite being on the losing side, again, he proved he is not just a great finisher but a quality distributor as he didn’t just score but played a great pass for Le Roux’s opening try. Keep an eye on this exciting talent.