Three converted tries in the final 12 minutes carried the All Blacks to a 33-6 win over the Springboks in their Tri-Nations rugby Test in Christchurch yesterday.
The win put New Zealand level with Australia at the head of the championship and set the stage for a classic showdown when the two teams meet in Auckland next week with both the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup on the line.
But if the All Blacks were looking to settle their World Cup warm up with a confidence boosting performance against a Springbok "B" team they were mistaken.
Despite an overwhelming advantage with possession against a South African side who had left their top 20 players at home, for much of the game the All Blacks were uninspiring in attack.
They were unable to find a way through the swarming Springboks defense led by Wynand Olivier and Waylon Murray.
And on the rare occasions they did make telling breaks, the subsequent overlap was lost by an inaccurate pass.
The All Blacks led just 6-3 at half-time and held a narrow 12-6 advantage before the floodgates finally opened in the 68th minute.
Even when South Africa were reduced to 14 men when Pedrie Wannenburg was sinbinned in the second spell the All Blacks were unable to capitalize on the one-man advantage to find the line.
However, they did maintain a strong territorial advantage through that period allowing Daniel Carter to kick two telling penalties.
Both sides were intent on playing to their strike power, although the All Blacks punished themselves by squandering an overwhelming stronghold on possession with wayward passing.
The only points in the first half were two penalties to the All Blacks by Daniel Carter, who finished the night with a match tally of 21 points, and one penalty from South African flyhalf Derick Hougaard.
Carter, in previous seasons the ace in the All Blacks backline, was intent on producing a solid performance after playing well below his proven level so far this year.
His first successful shot was from about 50m on the angle, after he had earlier missed a much closer penalty from right in front of the posts, and he went on to kick three more penalties and convert all three tries, including the one he scored himself at the end of the game.
After breaks by Mils Muliaina and Carter twice took the All Blacks up to the Springboks line in the opening stages of the second spell, South Africa bounced back and a Hougaard penalty levelled the scores in the 45th minute.
With two more Carter penalties taking the All Blacks up to 12-6 the game seemed to be destined to be a low scoring affair until Joe Rokocoko opened up the Springboks in the 68th minute.
Rokocoko engineered a 40m move which ended with a backflip pass to replacement halfback Brendon Leonard who scored.
Nick Evans, who replaced Luke McAlister at inside centre late in the game, then burst through a string of ineffectual tackles to score wide out, and Carter closed the game with his try right on full time.
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