Kieran Read hailed New Zealand’s spirit after the Rugby Championship winners pulled off a dramatic fightback to beat South Africa 32-30 in Pretoria.
The Springboks shocked the All Blacks with a 36-34 victory in Wellington last month and looked set to pull off a double when they led 30-13 with 20 minutes remaining on Saturday.
Steve Hansen’s side had been outplayed and starved of the ball for much of their final match of the tournament, but Scott Barrett’s try four minutes from time set up a tense finale.
There was one final twist, Ardie Savea ploughing his way over in the final minute and Richie Mo’unga converting to gain revenge for the world champions.
Captain Read was full of praise for the way the All Blacks rallied after they were up against it in a breathless second half at altitude.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 6, 2018
“You have got to have belief and we had that deep down to come back. Both teams were going at it and the Springboks were outstanding,” he said.
“On the two games we were split on the scoreboard and tonight we were a bit fortunate to come out on top.
“We did not have the territory and possession, but we hung in there and, especially when they got momentum, we came back.”
South Africa, roared on by a raucous crowd, dominated the first half but two Beauden Barrett penalties pegged them back at 6-6 at the break after Handre Pollard was on target twice from the tee.
Tries from Jesse Kriel and Damian De Allende early in the second half put the hosts in command and Cheslin Kolbe added a third after Aaron Smith had touched down at the other end, Pollard taking his tally with the boot to 15 points.
New Zealand were not finished yet, though, the prolific Rieko Ioane scoring in the left corner, then Barrett and Savea crossing with the Springboks under immense pressure before Mo’unga settled it from the tee.
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