New Zealand survive South Africa scare to end Rugby Championship 2017 unbeaten

Lima Sopoaga scored the decisive penalty in New Zealand's narrow win over South Africa
Lima Sopoaga scored the decisive penalty in New Zealand's narrow win over South Africa

South Africa 24-25 New Zealand, DHL Newlands

New Zealand finished the Rugby Championship 2017 tournament unbeaten as they edged out South Africa 24-25 in a thrilling encounter in the final round at DHL Newlands.

Steve Hansen's men already had the title heading into the game but were stretched by a side which they defeated 57-0 last month.

Elton Jantjies kicked a ninth minute penalty to kicked the proceedings for South Africa but his counterpart Beauden Barrett added the equaliser two minutes later.

New Zealand, though, finished the first half with a five point lead as Ryan Crotty crossed over in the 31st minute but Barrett missed out on the conversion.

The second half was fiercely competed as Ross Cronje helped South Africa gain a slender two point lead with a 44th minute touchdown while Jantjies slotted the extras.

Even though Reiko Ioane restored the five point lead when he strolled past the post, South Africa once again responded back when Jean-Luc du Preez danced past the post as the home side retained their two point advantage.

As the game was heading for a tight finish Damian McKenzie scored the crucial try for the All Blacks while replacement Lima Sopoaga kicked a conversion to make it 17-22. A high tackle by Damian de Allende on Sopoaga in the 75th minute saw him sent-off with the New Zealand replacement kicking a penalty as well to stretch the lead to eight points.

Despite being one man down, Malcolm Marx scored a 77th minute try for South Africa while Jantjies' conversion meant they fell short of a historic win over All Blacks.

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