All Blacks win a triumph for 'belief'

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Lynn McConnell     08 Oct 2018     Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said there was a lot of talk about what the game would mean next year in Japan but he dismissed the result's relevance 12 months out from the event.

"What it will do, for our young players who haven't been in a situation when they've been behind before they'll put their head on the pillow tonight understanding 'don't stop believing'," he said.

"And for the South Africans it will be 'don't stop playing, don't give an inch', so both teams will get plenty out of it from that point of view but what it means for the World Cup…?

"I think back to the last World Cup and we'd played South Africa quite a number of times and come out on the right side of the scoreboard and we snuck home by two points. On the day South Africa could easily have won that game so it's just what happens on any given day; how you turn up, how you respond to the challenges that come.

"They're building a good side and we're trying to build one too," he said.

Captain Kieran Read said it was the sort of game where all the way through you thought you weren't going to win. But there was a belief deep inside to keep going for the win and the side had shown that.

"To come out on the right side of it, it is an awesome feeling," he said.

There was no panic because even when they were down 30-13 there was still time on the clock to go for the win.

They had been able to get their hands on the ball during the last 10 minutes and spend time in South Africa's half.

"For the majority of the game they dictated to us and they did a fantastic job of that. We didn't have much chance really to impart anything on them, it's one thing we'll look back on and try and improve," he said.

Hansen said he was proud of the side, especially when looking back to Wellington when they hadn't managed the game too well.

"I think Kieran and the leaders can take a lot of pleasure and satisfaction out of how they managed tonight's game, as he said he could have been one that we easily let go and allowed them 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. South Africa, I thought, played incredibly well and are probably unlucky not to have won it whilst we were sitting in Wellington thinking we were unlucky not to have won," he said.

Paying tribute to the contribution from the bench, Hansen said flanker Ardie Savea had to come on early when replacing Sam Cane who has suffered a neck fracture. But in the process Savea had shown how much his game had advanced and the man who scored the match-winning try had shown he was starting to believe he was a Test player of real quality.

"He got two great turnovers near the end and obviously scored a try but he had to go a long way into the game, more than we wanted him to. Richie [Mo'unga] came on and played well, Patrick [Tuipulotu]…all of them did their job so once again you've just got to be pleased with them," he said.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said Mo'unga would clearly have delight at kicking the winning goal but he was part of a group that came off the bench and did their job.

"He didn't panic with some of the penalties we got in the last 10 [minutes], he took his time and kicked to the corner, one lucky bounce which we'll take, but overall it just another experience he can bank away and again he has added value when he has come on," he said.

The decision for Mo'unga to take over the goal-kicking was made between he and Beauden Barrett. Foster said Barrett had been blowing a bit at that stage, and while he had been kicking well, he had full confidence in Mo'unga.

Hansen added that Barrett also wanted to be back at halfway with the leadership group talking about their approach in the final stages.

Under questioning from South African journalists regarding the Springboks taking off leading players just before the game turned, Hansen said that the bench was a trump card. New Zealand had gone to it early, when replacing tight forwards after 45 minutes, but Rassie Erasmus could afford to keep his players on longer.

But eventually players were going to 'run out of petrol especially in a game as physical and fast as the one tonight'.

"You're not going to have momentum for the whole 80 minutes if you're playing against a quality team. South Africa had it for a long point of time but at some point if we kept just fronting up, believing, we were going to have our turn. And then it was a matter of making sure that we made the most of our turn.

"Yeah, we got a little bit of luck but I think both teams would have got the same amount of luck, it's just what you do with it so and whilst we're really satisfied we know we've got a lot of stuff we've got to work on too," he said.