New Zealand repeated last week's Tri-Nations heroics with another polished performance to beat South Africa 31-17 on Saturday.
New Zealand repeated their heroics of last week's Tri-Nations opener with another polished performance to beat South Africa 31-17 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
It was a bad case of deja vu for the Boks as once again the All Blacks took advantage of a yellow card shown early on – this time to banned Bakkies Botha's replacement Danie Rossouw – that resulted in ten points in ten minutes.
From then on in it was always going to be a mountain to climb for the visitors. And while they showed a lot of character to claw their way back and narrow the lead to 13-7 at half-time, the home side were just far too clinical after the break to claim successive bonus point wins over the world champions and ensure their two home fixtures yielded the maximum ten points.
Truth be told, the hosts should have buried South Africa considering the defending champions' inconsistent defensive efforts, their inability to adapt to Alain Rolland's relaxed and sometimes negligent style of officiating, and their failure to impose themselves on attack.
Indeed, Irish eyes weren't smiling on the Springboks on a wintry night in the New Zealand capital and at times, it certainly looked like John Smit's men were up against sixteen men.
The yellow card for foul play aside, there were key instances in the game that either went unnoticed or unpunished that will leave fans of the oval ball fuming back in the Republic.
South Africa now limp across the Tasman to Australia pointless and seemingly bereft of ideas after another mauling by a highly-motivated All Blacks side whose superior inventiveness, precision and individual class was a joy to watch.
The Springbok attack was unimaginative, and were often smashed back by the hungrier All Blacks who read the South Africans' unimaginative play like a book. Needless to say, a lot of work needs to be done before next weekend's clash with the Wallabies – their discipline and attitude no doubt topping the list.
And the Boks can certainly count themselves lucky that Dan Carter had a bad day with the boot, after the All Blacks pivot missed five shots at goal to lend the scoreline an unreflective look.
Rossouw, making his 50th Test appearance in place of the suspended Botha, was earlier the villain of the peace after a skirmish with Richie McCaw saw him sent to the sin bin just four minutes in. Looking back on the replay, a fired up Rossouw dished out a tap kick to the thigh of McCaw that, in all seriousness, wouldn't have hurt his grandmother.
And the hosts capitalised clinically, racing into a 10-0 lead with their opponents a man down.
Ma'a Nonu opened the scoring, powering over a ruck of bodies on seven minutes and just managing to ground the ball. Carter, who had missed an earlier penalty, was again off target with the conversion.
Smit gave his troops a stern talking to before the restart, however his words had little effect as just five minutes later the home side struck again.
A fine break from Piri Weepu sliced open the Springboks' static defence and full-back Mills Muliaina – who showed impressive pace – raced away down the right wing to score clinically in the corner. Carter continued his 100 per cent failure record, however his latest effort was the toughest yet under a swirling wind at the Westpac Stadium.
Rossouw returned to the field minutes later, however the wave of attacks from the men in black refused to relent and Carter landed his first effort in four attempts on the half hour.
Despite spending the majority of the first half on the back foot, South Africa grabbed a lifeline three minutes before the break when Rossouw crashed over and Morne Steyn added the extras.
Any hopes of a comeback were soon put to bed though as Rene Ranger marked his first Test start with a try six minutes after the break. The try followed an incident where Ranger was let off for a shoulder charge on Zane Kirchner in plain sight of the referee and his assistant Alan Lewis. If he's cited, it will affirm the fact that the Wellington officials made a costly gaffe in failing to show him yellow.
Carter, who missed the subsequent conversion, was then taken off kicking duties as Weepu tried his luck. The move paid dividends on 51 minutes when the robust scrum-half expertly slotted over a 40-metre effort to put the All Blacks 21-10 to the good.
A bonus-point win was sealed 14 minutes later, replacement Israel Dagg producing two sizzling sidesteps past Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger and Kirchner before touching down.
Burger barged his way over for a late consolation, however the All Blacks were full value for their second successive bonus-point win and are now in pole position to regain the title.
Man of the match: Once again, all the All Blacks played well. Kieran Read led another impressive forward effort, while Dan Carter was able to probe with his boot or let the ball out to the outside backs who were a constant threat. Acting as the link, and an ideal choice under the circumstances, was scrum-half Piri Weepu. He thrived in the conditions, feeding the ball consistently while making breaks efficiently to ensure the advantage line was continually broken.
Moment of the match: There were a few, but Israel Dagg's superb individual try to seal the deal was the icing at the Cake Tin.
Villain of the match: Last week it was bad boy Baakie's Botha who crippled his team in the first half with a needless sin binning and this week his replacement Danie Rossouw followed suit.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Nonu, Muliana, Ranger, Dagg
Pens: Carter 2, Weepu
For South Africa:
Tries: Rossouw, Burger
Cons: Steyn 2
Yellow card: Rossouw, 3 min (South Africa, foul play)
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Israel Dagg.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Wynand Oliver, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit (c), 1 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Butch James, 22 Gio Aplon.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)