McCaw magic seals win as All Blacks edge South Africa

Captain’s late try seals comeback Rugby Championship win at Ellis Park

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw grabbed a late winning try as the All Blacks edged South Africa 27-20 in a gripping test match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The home side led for most of the match but just as in their defeat by Australia in their Rugby Championship opener they could not close out the game out and they cannot now win the title.

New Zealand winger Ben Smith and hooker Dane Coles also scored tries, with debutant flyhalf Lima Sopoaga adding three conversions and a penalty.

Fullback Willie le Roux and electric young centre Jesse Kriel claimed tries for the home side, with flyhalf Handre Pollard adding two conversions and a couple of penalties.

The decision to play two openside flankers in Heinrich Brussouw, returning to the team for the first time in four years, and Francois Louw, paid dividends as the Boks dominated the breakdown, particularly in the first half.

They had the lion’s share of possession too, but the world champion All Blacks showed their spirit and character to hang in and go to the break at 10-10.

Trailing to an early Sopoaga penalty, the Boks grabbed the first try after intense pressure in the visitors’ half.

Kieran Read lost the ball after a steal on the ground and Le Roux burst through a gap to score after being set free by Kriel.

Pollard extended the lead, before the All Blacks struck back on the stroke of halftime. A typically incisive breakaway was too quick for the retreating Bok defenders as Smith found space out wide and finished under the posts.

The home side were back in front as youngsters Pollard and Kriel combined, the latter scything past three All Black defenders to score and cap an excellent performance. But the All Blacks hit back again just minutes later, Coles finding a gap in the defence and showing admirable pace to touch under the posts.

A Pollard penalty edged the home team ahead and they missed two more chances to score having camped on the All Black line. They were made to pay when New Zealand opted for a line-out rather than an easy penalty to level the scores and McCaw barged over with an excellent move from the set-piece in probably his last test match in South Africa.