All Blacks squeeze past Springboks 25-24 for clean sweep

With the title already locked up, New Zealand had to dig deep at Newlands to clinch a sixth win out of six in the championship.

New Zealand effectively sealed the result at 25-17 when Lima Sopoaga slotted a 77th-minute penalty goal - after Damian de Allende was farcically red-carded for a late and high challenge on the Highlanders flyhalf as he attempted a drop goal.

South Africa restored their pride and reputation with three tries and a defiant defensive performance, but it was the brilliance of New Zealand's ability to counter-attack with such devastating effect that saw the visitors prevail - albeit by the skin of their teeth.

Trailing 8-3 at the break, the Springboks snatched a 10-8 lead soon after the resumption through halfback Ross Cronje's sneaky try, but they gifted New Zealand flyer Rieko Ioane a crucial 80-metre runaway try in the 60th minute via a loose pass.

"It's tough lessons that we're learning", Springboks coach Allister Coetzee said.

"We've not had as much time on the field this week but it's all about energizing everyone and getting the zest back", Crotty said on Thursday. We are heading in the right direction.

"You've got two young guys who are going to take a bucket-load of confidence out of being under an extreme amount of pressure and come out and know that they can do things well", said coach Steve Hansen after Saturday's narrow victory.

South Africa have made three changes with Francois Louw moving to number eight to replace the injured Uzair Cassiem and Pieter-Steph du Toit coming in on the flank where Louw played in the 27-27 draw with Australia in Bloemfontein last week.

"Obviously I'm pleased any time we win - it's easier on the ticker when you win 57-0 - but it gives you greater pleasure when it's a real contest, and both sides played well tonight", Hansen told a media conference.


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