'Always time' for an All Blacks fightback
REACTION: All Blacks captain Kieran Read said his team had to “dig deep” to win a Rugby Championship thriller against South Africa in Pretoria Saturday.
The All Blacks came from 17 points behind on the hour to triumph 32-30 at the death and break the hearts of more than 50 000 Springbok supporters.
It was the first time New Zealand have won four consecutive matches in South Africa and a fifth victory in a row for them at Loftus Versfeld stadium.
Success was particularly sweet as it avenged a 34-36 loss to South Africa in Wellington last month.
Read said it was “an awesome feeling” to win a final-round match where only pride was at stake as New Zealand had clinched first place with a win in Argentina last weekend.
“I feel pretty good. To win a game like that, it obviously feels fantastic. Those are the type of games where you feel all through it you are not going to win.
“So there has to be a belief in there somewhere deep inside you to keep going.
“I think we showed that. And then to come out on the right side of it, it is an awesome feeling.
“There was always plenty of time on the clock, even though we were down by 17 points, there was always time on the clock for us to get back into the game.
“When 12 points down with 10 minutes, I thought we were right into it and finding some momentum. We finally looked after the ball a little better and got into their half.”
Read hailed the Springboks for dominating them almost throughout the game.
“I felt for the majority of the game they dictated us and did a fantastic job.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also had nothing but praise for his team.
“I’m very proud of the character they showed. I think Kieran and the leaders can take a lot of pleasure and satisfaction at how they managed the game,” he said.
“It could easily have been one that we let go and allowed them to win. But we dug deep, refused to give up and sometimes if you keep on knocking at the door, someone will open it.
“South Africa played incredibly well, and were probably unlucky not to have won.
“It is great for the game and for everyone who watched tonight will know it was a good game. Some people will be disappointed, but not with the quality of play,”
Hansen said his bench had carried the team through.
“They did what we asked them to do, they provided energy and purpose. Someone like Ardie [Savea] had to come on early and he really made a mark.
“I think he is really starting to believe he will become a Test player of quality, he made two big turnovers near the end and obviously scored the [winning] try.
“Richie [Mo’unga] also came on and did what we wanted him to,”