The inaugural 2012 Rugby Championship may have already been sewn up by New Zealand, but the All Blacks succeeded in maintaining their perfect record in defeating the Springboks of South Africa by a score of 32-16.
It was actually the Springboks who set the tone early in the Test for their native Johannesburg crowd.
Star wing Bryan Habana put his team on the board early, and it turned out to be a crowning achievement, according to Infostrada Sports:
Bryan Habana equals a single season Tri Nations/The Rugby Championship record with his 7th try (2000, Christian Cullen, NZL) #rugby
— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 6, 2012
A conversion kick and penalty goal by rising fly-half Johan Goosen gave South Africa a 10-0 edge with 15 minutes left in the first half.David Rogers/Getty Images
Sam Whitelock then took charge for the All Blacks, breaking two tackles as he stretched just far enough across for the try to cut the lead in half. The first hard-fought 40 minutes wound up with the Springboks clinging to a 16-12 lead, but it wasn't meant to last.
The All Blacks' disciplined, suffocating defense kept the South Africans completely off the scoreboard in the second half. Centre Ma'a Nonu made an statement for New Zealand with a try in the opening minute and fly-half Dan Carter's conversion made it a three-point lead that the rugby union wouldn't relinquish.
Kieran Read keyed the All Blacks' efforts both on the attack and on defense, which garnered a "Man of the Match" label from ESPN scrum.
Coach Steve Hansen's All Blacks put an exclamation point on the end of the championship with a dominant final 40 minutes to extend their perfect tournament record to 6-0. Between last year's World Cup and this most recent victory, New Zealand is on a 16-game winning streak. According to the BBC, that is just two shy of the record for consecutive Test victories set by Lithuania in 2010.
South Africa's side had already clinched runner-up through the first five rounds of play, but clearly wanted to pull the upset in the friendly confines of FNB Stadium.
Even some late All Black mistakes—most notably a yellow card for New Zealand's Israel Dagg at the 66' mark—couldn't spark a comeback charge.
The powerhouse New Zealand club was simply too much and they will continue to be recognized as the premier union team with such a dominant, wire-to-wire Rugby Championship performance.