RUGBY UNION: The All Blacks are intent on celebrating their record-breaking victory over the Springboks in Durban but are aware that Australia will arrive in Auckland in a week's time determined to spoil their party.
The 57-15 thrashing handed out to the Boks at Kings Park was the biggest margin of victory by the All Blacks over their old foe and South Africa's biggest defeat at home.
It equalled the world record for consecutive Test victories at 17, but Steve Hansen's men are determined to go at least one better and their head coach warned that the Wallabies will be extremely eager to stop them. Eden Park will host the Bledisloe Cup dead rubber on October 22.
"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 work hard for their win despite the apparent ease of it displayed by the scoreboard. They scored nine tries in total but only two in the first half as the boot of Morne Steyn kept the Boks in the match. After the break, however, the visitors cut loose with Beauden Barrett in particular a menace once again.
"You've got to work hard in Test matches. It doesn't just come,” skipper Kieran Read said.
"I think it showed in the first half when the Springboks actually played bloody well and we had to absorb a lot of pressure. I think the team that we've got just want to express themselves. It's pretty hard to stop them really in that second half when they get going. We've just to keep riding that flow when it's on and it seems to be on for us so you've just got to let it happen.”
The handling, offloads and running lines were again first-class from the All Blacks, who won all five of their Rugby Championship Tests this year with bonus points. But their defence was again excellent too. While the Boks didn't help themselves on attack, with Steyn standing deep and wanting to kick more than run the ball, the line speed from the visitors never let them settle.
"We've been working hard on our skills and our game for a long time, both in attack run by Fozzie (Ian Foster) and on defence run by Smithy (Wayne Smith),” Hansen said. "Both of them in their own right are great coaches and are delivering a great product for us. Everybody is just doing their job.”
Two players who probably cemented their place in the side were midfielders Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown. The pair once again combined brilliantly after doing so for the first time against the Pumas last weekend, with 21-year-old Lienert-Brown a rising force for his power and ability to offload.
Foster said: "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.”