Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Unbeaten All Blacks chase new challenges

All Blacks perform the Haka during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingspark Rugby stadium in Durban. Photo / AFP
All Blacks perform the Haka during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Kingspark Rugby stadium in Durban. Photo / AFP

As the records keep tumbling for the All Blacks, so they are constantly looking for new ground to break.

After equalling the world record of 17 consecutive test wins with a 57-15 thumping of South Africa at Kings Park, a loss which "embarrassed" the hosts according to their coach Allister Coetzee, the All Blacks planned to celebrate before starting preparations for their dead Bledisloe Cup rubber against Australia in a fortnight.

Another victory at Eden Park over a team who laboured to a 33-21 win over Argentina at Twickenham would see them break the record and then set their sights higher.

The way they turned up the heat on the Springboks in the second half, scoring seven of their nine tries, suggests they are on target to match their perfect year of 2013. Coach Steve Hansen, clearly proud of his team, sounded subdued afterwards, possibly out of respect for the troubled Boks, but it's clear his side are achieving something special.

"I wouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves," Hansen said. "If we're going to go one step further, we've got to make sure we prepare really well. Australia are a good rugby side. They've got a history of turning up when there's a record on the table. But there's only three sides in the history of the game that have won 17 and now we've become the fourth.

"That's a proud moment for the team, particularly when they're a team that want to get better and do things other teams haven't done. That's been the case with this group since 2012. We're trying to find different horizons all the time. It's just nice to achieve that."

The All Blacks had to absorb early pressure from the Boks, and after a couple of early mistakes, threw it back at them two-fold. The record margin of defeat would have been greater had Waisake Naholo not lost the ball in the act of scoring before Brodie Retallick's try was disallowed for obstruction at the end of the first half. The handling, offloads and running lines were again first class from the All Blacks.

"We've been working hard on our skills and our game for a long time; in attack run by Fozzie [Ian Foster] and on defence run by Smithy [Wayne Smith]," Hansen said. "Both of them are great coaches and are delivering a great product for us. Everybody is just doing their job."

Assistant coach Foster said of Ryan Crotty and 21-year-old midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown: "These two are really starting to gel well. I think they're starting to grow in confidence with each other and I guess reading the different nuances of the defence and which lines to run. They're certainly putting their hand up."

And although Beauden Barrett missed four kicks at goal, his overall impact was again considerable. While his impact, and that of the replacements, most notably Liam Squire, was perhaps predictable, it was no less impressive because of that.

In a masterclass of understatement, Hansen said of Barrett: "He's pretty good. They told us we wouldn't be able to replace the other fella ... He's got some wonderful attributes that you can't coach - speed being one of them ... so we have to thank his mother and father and probably God for those genetics."

New challenges and records await.

Boks lock Lood de Jager has been cited for foul play. Having come on as a substitute, de Jager was yellow carded in the 72nd minute for charging shoulder-first into All Blacks prop Wyatt Crockett. The Boks have two games remaining this year, taking on England and Wales next month.

- NZ Herald

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