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All Blacks claim Tri Nations crown

Late tries from Richie McCaw and Israel Dagg ruined John Smit's 100th Test appearance for South Africa as New Zealand clinched the Tri Nations title with a 29-22 victory in Johannesburg.

The world champions, playing in front of more than 90,000 spectators, were in command for most of the game and looked to be closing out their first win of the competition after 17 points from Morne Steyn and Schalk Burger's try saw them head into the closing stages with a five-point lead.

But with two minutes to go, All Black captain McCaw went over in the corner to draw his side level, and even though Daniel Carter missed the conversion, there was enough time for Dagg to cross the line and snatch the win.

Carter and Steyn kicked two penalties each before the opening try came after 25 minutes when a quick penalty tap-and-go from Steyn and the momentum of the forwards carried Burger over the line. The Bulls number 10 made no mistake with the conversion.

The two kickers traded penalties again but the All Blacks came right back into it after 36 minutes when a forward move saw the ball quickly switched from left to right with Ma'a Nonu and Tom Donnelly combining to send Tony Woodcock over for his seventh international try. Carter, though, missed the chance to level things with the conversion.

The Springboks had a great chance for a second try straight after the restart when Carter's clearance kick was charged down, but the ball was not recycled quickly enough.

Steyn extended the lead to eight points with two further penalties but Carter kept New Zealand within touching distance when he sent over a penalty of his own.

Seven minutes from time the All Black pivot missed a shot from straight in front and that seemed to end all hope.

But two minutes from time, McCaw collected the ball on the overlap and dived over in the right corner, despite the best efforts of three South African defenders.

There was a tense wait before the television referee gave the New Zealand captain the benefit of the doubt and Dagg then crossed on the left as the hosts pushed forward to seal a memorable win.


From Belfast Telegraph