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Thursday 19 October 2017

All Blacks suffer a psychological blow

Amid the obvious thrill of victory there was also a palpable sense of relief in the South Africa camp following their 27-25 triumph over New Zealand in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The Southern Hemisphere championship may have already gone to the world champion All Blacks a week earlier but for South Africa and coach Heyneke Meyer, beating New Zealand and landing a psychological blow before next year's World Cup in England, was proving frustratingly elusive.

Yet it almost slipped from their grasp again as they gave up a late lead before replacement fly-half Pat Lambie booted a penalty from his own half to secure a first win over their great rivals since Meyer took over after the last World Cup in 2011.

"It's at home and you have to pull these games through, but it's important to keep our feet on the ground and keep on working harder. I'm really relieved," Meyer said in Johannesburg.

Skipper Jean de Villiers admits that the team were anxious to 'tick the box' of an All Black win.

"It was important for us, the whole year we said we do believe we are a good enough team to beat them and I think we showed that. It was a box that we didn't have ticked off yet," De Villiers said. "The key now is to compose ourselves again, take that in and assess things like the second half," he added.

"We didn't play well in the second half and must take that on board for the end of year tour, which won't be easy, it will be a really tough tour in the conditions the World Cup will be played in next year. It's important for us not to take two steps back now again and definitely the belief is there that we can beat any team in the world."

All Black captain Richie McCaw (pictured), making a record 134th appearance for the side, said the team would focus on areas they needed to improve with an eye on the World Cup.

"There isn't much between these two teams, and most of the players will be around in 12 months time for the World Cup," McCaw said.

"But that is still some way off. Right now we are hurting. I would think there was something wrong if we just accepted that we had to lose some time and move on.

"Maybe it will be a good thing if it means we intensify the focus on the areas where we went wrong. If we just said it was our turn to lose that wouldn't be good. That is not how the All Blacks are."

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