Steve Hansen proud of New Zealand's fightback in Pretoria

Steve Hansen led New Zealand to another Rugby Championship title
Steve Hansen led New Zealand to another Rugby Championship title

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen lavished praise on his side for their last-gasp win over South Africa in the final round of the Rugby Championship in Pretoria last weekend.

By the end of the third quarter, Hansen's men were trailing South Africa by a massive 17-point margin that was reduced to 12 when Reiko Ioane crossed over in the 62nd minute.

The margin remained the same as the final five minutes of the game kicked-off and it looked like the All Blacks were in for another setback having already lost the Wellington encounter against the same opposition 34-36 earlier in the tournament.

However, tries from lock Scott Barrett and replacement flank Ardie Savea followed by double conversion from Richie Mo'unga proved just enough as the visitors went on to claim a thrilling two-point victory.

"I'm proud of the character they (the players) showed," Hansen told reporters. "

A couple of weeks ago we didn't manage the game very well and I think (captain) Kieran (Read) and his leadership group can take a lot of satisfaction over how they managed tonight's game.

"It could have easily been one we let go and allowed them (the Boks) to win, but they dug in deep and refused to give up. Sometimes if you keep knocking on the door someone will open it and you can come in."

The New Zealand boss also credited South Africa for the turnaround they showed considering they were humiliated by New Zealand 57-0 in last year's edition.

Ever since, Erasmus took over, the Boks had a fabulous year after defeating England 2-1 at home and then beating New Zealand at their own backyard while also pushing them hard last weekend in Pretoria.

"South Africa, I thought, played incredibly well and they are probably unlucky not to win it. But a few weeks ago, we were sitting and thinking we were unlucky not to win, so it's been two great test matches that have been great for the game.

"Everybody who watched tonight some will be disappointed, but they can't be disappointed in the rugby that was played."

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