All Blacks win last-minute thriller

All Blacks 29
South Africa 22

Israel Dagg scores the winning try for the All Blacks. Photo / Getty
Israel Dagg scores the winning try for the All Blacks. Photo / Getty

Two tries in the final two minutes saw the All Blacks capture their 10th Tri Nations title with a thrilling 29-22 win over South Africa in Soweto this morning.

All Blacks substitute Israel Dagg crossed the line in the 80th minute to give New Zealand a famous win, after a Richie McCaw try tied the match up only a minute earlier.

South Africa were denied the chance to celebrate John Smit's 100th test in style by handing the All Blacks their first loss of the season in front of 94,000 fans at FNB Stadium after leading for most of the match.

To make matters worse the Springboks hooker missed a vital tackle in the final play that saw Ma'a Nonu break up the middle of the field from New Zealand's own half and gift Dagg with the match winning runaway try.

The All Blacks' 14th straight win looked unlikely after Dan Carter missed a penalty from a handy position while trailing 22-17 with eight minutes remaining but McCaw tied the match up a few minutes later with a controversial try.

The All Blacks skipper dived into the right hand corner with three Springboks attempting to push him into touch and it looked like they succeeded when referee Nigel Owens referred to the television match official.

McCaw's left foot possibly grazed outside of play at the same time he planted the ball but with a lack of clear evidence the try was rewarded.

Carter missed a potential match-winning conversion from out wide to leave the scores tied at 22-22 and it could have proven costly when South Africa took possession inside New Zealand's half with time running out.

However the All Blacks got a costly turnover which saw Nonu break away to set up the famous win when an unmarked Dagg appeared out wide on the left hand wing and coasted to the try line.

Morne Steyn had a strong game with the boot in a losing cause, kicking 17 points courtesy of five penalties and a conversion.

South Africa led the match 16-14 at halftime despite New Zealand dominating possession for much of the first half.

Flanker Schalk Burger, with the helpful push from Flip van der Merwe, barged over the All Blacks line with the opening try midway through the opening 40 which gave South Africa a 13-6 lead after both teams traded early penalties.

In between the seven penalty attempts in the first half, both teams showed willingness to run the ball and it paid off for the All Blacks just before halftime when Tony Woodcock scored a typical prop's try out on the wing when South Africa were caught stretched for numbers out wide.

The Springboks had to settle for only two penalties in the second half but it was enough to hold a 22-14 lead late in the match, keeping the All Blacks out of the seven-point bonus point range needed to win the Tri Nations.

Carter and Cory Jane both went close to closing the gap on separate occasions but South Africa's desperate defense held the All Blacks out.

However Carter still had his kicking boots on and he closed the gap back to five points with his fourth penalty in the 68th minute when South Africa were penalised for interference while clearing the ball from their own line.

Carter missed a penalty from in front with eight minutes left that looked costly at the time but minutes later McCaw would score New Zealand's second try and set up a chain of events that will go down in New Zealand rugby history.

New Zealand 29
Tries: Tony Woodcock, Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg. Pens: Dan Carter 4. Con: Carter.

South Africa 22
Try: Schalk Burger. Pens: Morne Steyn 5 Con: Steyn

- NZHERALD STAFF

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