In the bag: All Blacks crush South Africa 41-13 to seal Rugby Championship title
Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Sam Whitelock, Ben Smith, Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara all cross in Christchurch on Saturday to secure the bonus-point victory
Hooker Dane Coles gave a masterclass in backline playmaking to set-up three New Zealand tries as the world champions thrashed South Africa 41-13 to clinch the Rugby Championship title on Saturday.
Coles made the final pass for tries to Israel Dagg, Julian Savea and Sam Whitelock, while Ben Smith, Ardie Savea and TJ Perenara also crossed to secure the bonus point victory.
Beauden Barrett slotted four conversions and a penalty for the home side, who moved to 20 points on the Rugby Championship table.
The win, combined with Australia’s 36-20 defeat of Argentina later, gave the All Blacks an insurmountable 11-point lead over second-place Australia with two rounds remaining.
Springboks winger Bryan Habana scored his 66th test try, three short of the world record of Japan’s Daisuke Ohata, while fly-half Elton Jantjies added a conversion and two penalties for the touring side.
“We were probably a bit guilty of playing too much footy and making mistakes,” Coles said. “They played some pretty good footy in that first half and put us under pressure.”
The hosts only had a 15-10 lead at half-time as they struggled to get any flow and turned the ball over just when they appeared to have stretched the visitors to breaking point, but kicked away with four second half tries.
Watch: New Zealand 41 South Africa 13
While Barrett kicked a ninth-minute penalty to score the first points for the All Blacks, the visitors got on the board when Habana ran a superb angle and was put into space by Warren Whiteley 10 minutes later.
The All Blacks responded immediately when Jantjies dropped the restart and following an attacking scrum, Coles made a no-look pass to put Dagg over.
The hooker again provided the final pass to give Julian Savea his 44th test try – his first against South Africa – in the 28th minute.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 17, 2016
Jantjies’ penalty ensured the All Blacks only held a five-point advantage at half-time, but they extended their lead in the 49th minute when Smith finished off a sweeping counter attack sparked by Barrett and Coles.
Openside flanker Ardie Savea, making his first test start, scored, before Whitelock received a 15-metre pass from Coles to score in the corner.
Replacement scrum-half Perenara capped the scoring from an attacking scrum.
“We were in it in the first half when we had ball in hand and when we were in their territory we were effective,” Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss said.