McCaw try gives All Blacks tense win over Springboks
Monday, 15 September 2014 00:46
All Blacks maintain five-year unbeaten record at home
Gamble of picking Pollard pays off for Springboks
WELLINGTON (Reuters): Captain Richie McCaw scored a second-half try to help the All Blacks maintain their five-year unbeaten record in New Zealand with a tense 14-10 victory over a combative Springboks side in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
McCaw was the beneficiary of a pin-point cross-kick from Aaron Cruden that was hauled in by number eight Kieran Read who fed his skipper who dived over in the corner.
Cruden slotted two penalties for the home side while Beauden Barrett added another after he replaced Cruden late in the second half to give the home side 16 points at the top of the Rugby Championship table. South Africa are on 10.
“It was a hell of a battle out there tonight,” McCaw told reporters. “I think the difference in the first half, we were on the back foot a little bit when they were getting the edge at the contact area and we were forced into poor decisions and poor kicks and poor handling. When you do that against a team like that you put yourself under pressure. The second half was better but no means perfect.”
Rookie South Africa flyhalf Handre Pollard had been seen as a gamble by coach Heyneke Meyer, but demonstrated a mature cool head far beyond his 20 years and inexperience of just three previous tests.
Pollard set up Cornal Hendricks’ first-half try with a brilliant inside pass, converted it and then slotted a long-range drop goal for the visitors who had the opportunity to win the match late on with several attacking lineouts but were thwarted.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Springboks captain Jean de Villiers, who played his 100th test match on Saturday. “It’s a loss to a quality side and very good team. We gave ourselves a chance but didn’t quite get there in the end.”
The All Blacks have been unbeaten in New Zealand for five years - a run of 36 successive tests - last losing at home to South Africa in Hamilton on Sept. 12, 2009.
The Springboks led 7-6 at halftime after Hendricks scored a try from Pollard’s inside pass that the International Rugby Board junior player of the year converted.