Masterful All Blacks hammer Springboks 57-15

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) " New Zealand swept aside the Aaron Smith scandal, and South Africa, to equal the top-tier record for consecutive test victories with a 57-15 hammering of its old rival in the final round of the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The masterful All Blacks scored a record nine tries to none from the Springboks for a sixth bonus-point win out of six games in the southern hemisphere tournament, which rugby's world champion and top-ranked team had already won with rounds to spare.

Scrumhalf TJ Perenara " starting in place of Smith, who was suspended for the game for misconduct " scored two tries, as did winger Israel Dagg, and flyhalf Beauden Barrett.

New Zealand's 17th straight win, continuing a run that began in August 2015, equaled the record set by New Zealand in 1965-69 and 2013-14, and South Africa in 1997-98.

These All Blacks have a chance to own the record outright in Australia in two weeks.

New Zealand's record margin of victory at Kings Park - eclipsing the 36 in 2003 at Loftus Versfeld - could have been even bigger if not for a couple of uncharacteristic errors on attack early in the first half and an off-night from the kicking tee by Barrett.

But they mattered little with an All Blacks attacking unit surging to score seven of its tries in the second half, including one after the final hooter to seal an awesome performance which bettered their previous highest score against South Africa, 55 in 1997.

Once the All Blacks got into their stride, South Africa could barely get the ball off them and couldn't stop them. The hosts missed 33 tackles, New Zealand missed two.

South Africa isn't the only team to find the All Blacks on another level over the last five years, but this performance underlined more than most the gap between the All Blacks and the rest.

Playing South Africa in South Africa, the team New Zealand considers its biggest rival, was meant to be a stern test for coach Steve Hansen's World Cup winners.

The All Blacks were just so slick, with the opening try for Dagg in the 22nd minute coming after waves of pressure and a superb quick pass by flanker Jerome Kaino. Perenara sniped off a ruck for his score in the 33rd.

New Zealand led 12-9 at halftime, and were ahead for the first time in the game late in the first half, but the second 40 was a blowout.

Dagg got his second in the 44th, with Barrett this time providing the superb pass out the tackle.

Barrett's two tries came as the All Blacks pounced on South African mistakes, fullback Ben Smith also got in on the act, while replacements Codie Taylor and Liam Squire crossed for the last two for the unstoppable All Blacks.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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