Richie McCaw ranks victory over Springboks a career best
New Zealand captain believes Liam Messam’s try after the siren at the end of the first half that took the All Blacks into the break 21-15 up was the crucial moment
Beauden Barrett breaks clear to score the bonus point-winning fourth try. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Captain Richie McCaw conceded New Zealand had to “dig deep” in their frenzied 38-27 victory over South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday that saw them retain the Rugby Championship title.
New Zealand scored five tries on their way to the bonus-point win in a game where the lead changed hands with regularity and the All Blacks had to play for 20 minutes with 14 men following yellow cards for Liam Messam and Ben Franks.
The showing was all the more impressive in that New Zealand arrived in Johannesburg on Monday from Argentina, acclimatising quickly and showing no adverse effects from the altitude at which they were playing. “We had to dig deep, both teams came here willing to play,” McCaw said. “We had 20 minutes with 14 men, add into that a bit of travel, it was a very satisfying win.
“Going behind we could easily have got flustered, but the guys hung in there. We took our chances really well and there were times when we were under a lot of pressure and then got a critical turnover.”
McCaw believed Messam’s try after the siren at the end of the first half that took the All Blacks into the break 21-15 up was the crucial moment, a point reiterated by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
McCaw, who hoisted aloft the World Cup trophy in 2011, ranked Saturday’s win among his best in an international career spanning 120 matches given it was achieved at what New Zealand considers South African rugby’s spiritual home.
“These are ones you want to play in, this is why you play the game of rugby. Growing up there are places you want to play and to get a chance today and to get a win here is pretty special, I remember watching the 1995 World Cup final and thinking that one day it would be awesome to play there.”
Messam touched down twice as the All Blacks outscored South Africa five tries to four in a match featuring five changes of lead. Bryan Habana got two tries for the Springboks, who entered the game needing a bonus-point victory by more than seven points to take the trophy and ran the ball at every opportunity.
New Zealand’s next assignment is their final Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in Dunedin on October 19th, though they have already retained that title from last year as well.