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All Blacks cap Rugby Championship sweep

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/10/2016

The All Blacks have completed the perfect Rugby Championship with a 57-15 demolition of South Africa, lifting them within sight of a Test world record.

The two-time defending world champions completed the most dominant campaign of any team in the history of the Sanzaar competition, securing a bonus point in each of their six wins.

All were lop-sided affairs, most notably Saturday's romp in Durban in which the visitors scored nine unanswered tries, running the kick-happy Springboks off their feet.

Morne Steyn landed five South African penalties but his team couldn't live with the speed and skill of the All Blacks, who set up two tries each to winger Israel Dagg, first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and halfback TJ Perenara.

Reserve hooker Codie Taylor, fullback Ben Smith and reserve flanker Liam Squire then crossed in the last 10 minutes, capitalising on a Springboks team reduced to 14 men following a yellow card shown to lock Lood de Jager.

Barrett finished with 16 points despite an off night with his boot.

It was a 17th successive win for New Zealand, who are level with a world record they have reached twice previously themselves, along with the South African side of 1997-98.

Captain Kieran Read's brilliant team can own the record outright with victory over Australia in Auckland on October 22.

On current form, that almost seems a formality such was the dominance in their biggest-ever win in 93 Tests against their most famous foe.

Up 12-9 at halftime - a scoreline which flattered the hosts - New Zealand ran amok after the break, keeping the ball in hand relentlessly and finding holes through an attacking style which was audacious but remarkably error-free.

They trailed 6-0 early on but hit the front through a sweeping team try which was finished by Dagg and a contentious try to Perenara, who appeared to lose control of possession as he scored.

Dagg's second try, five minutes after the break, encapsulated New Zealand's dominance as play went through more than 20 phases.

Barrett used his speed to cross twice while Perenara's second was a result of several breath-taking offloads.

Read says he felt a world class performance was within his team after going close without quite nailing it this year.

"To come to South Africa and score a victory like that, it won't come again I don't think, so you've just got to be stoked," he said.

"This is a great bunch of men and I'm privileged to be leading them. I'm loving what we're doing right now."

Attacking statistics underlined New Zealand's mastery, beating 33 defenders to the Springboks' two. Their combined running metres of 758m eclipsed the home team's 174m.

Coach Steve Hansen says breaking the world record for successive wins won't enter his mind until he returns to New Zealand.

"We'll enjoy the moment. We've managed to play some quality rugby and make some people proud," he said.

"It's better than the last one but it's not perfect so we won't get too carried away."

The All Blacks showed no signs of any distraction from the midweek controversy surrounding Aaron Smith. The halfback chose to return home after being suspended for a game after it emerged he was involved in a tryst with a woman in a disabled toilet at Christchurch Airport.

South Africa, who lost four of their Rugby Championship Tests, failed to produce the performance they wanted for captain Adriaan Strauss, who was playing his last Test on home soil before retirement.

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