NEW ZEALAND SCORED 20 unanswered second-half points to complete a perfect Rugby Championship campaign with a 32-16 triumph over arch rivals South Africa at Soccer City today.
Down by 10 points early on and trailing 16-12 at half-time, the All Blacks reclaimed the lead 22 seconds into the second half through a try from veteran inside centre Ma’a Nonu and never looked back.
Lock Sam Whitelock, scrum-half Aaron Smith and outside centre Conrad Smith also scored tries and fly-half Dan Carter kicked three conversions, a penalty and a drop goal.
Bryan Habana claimed his seventh try in the southern hemisphere championship this season early on to raise South African hopes, but that was the only time the green and gold crossed the line.
Fly-half Johan Goosen kicked the conversion and a penalty before retiring injured late in the first half and replacement Elton Jantjies landed two penalties.
Coach Heyneke Meyer warned the Springboks before the Test that nothing less than an 80 per cent place-kicking success rate would give his team a chance of victory and his words proved prophetic.
Youngsters Goosen and Jantjies missed two kicks each to leave South Africa with only a 50 per cent success rate and so the poor record when aiming at the posts during the Championship continued.
While the South African pack held its own, there was a yawning gap in class between the back lines with New Zealand managing to score two first half tries despite being virtually starved of possession.
New Zealand defeated South Africa, Australia and Argentina home and away and also picked up two bonus points for a total of 26 — 14 more than South Africa, who could surrender second place if Australia beat Argentina later today.