| 9.9°C Dublin

All Blacks wary of SA challenge

RUGBY: Despite four crushing wins over the world's second and third-best sides in the Tri-Nations, New Zealand will hold off tinkering with their squad until after their trip to South Africa, coach Graham Henry said.

The All Blacks will play the Springboks in Johannesburg next weekend needing only a point to secure the trophy -- and the team are battling a growing temptation to blood new players in preparation for next year's World Cup on home soil.

Henry said last year's losses to eventual champions South Africa had made the selection panel cautious -- and at the cost of handing rookie fly-half Aaron Cruden his first start.

"When you get bitten in the arse like we did last year, you are inclined to be a bit more conservative," Henry said. "We went through a bad patch and got beaten by South Africa three times last year, and the selection group just wanted to make sure we were pretty solid this season.

"In hindsight, we should have played Aaron in Hamilton (against Wales). It will happen sooner rather than later."

"This game (against the Spingboks) is what the All Blacks need now. Once this test is over and, depending on the result, we may have freedom for some of the guys who need to play international rugby."

The current lineup has swept New Zealand to 13 successive wins, including last week's 20-10 victory over Australia.

"It has been going well so far because there was a feeling in New Zealand after the Super 14 final that we would not be able to match the Springboks," said Henry, referring to the all-South Africa final between the Bulls and the Stormers.

The All Blacks take on a Boks side stung by criticism at home after their Australia and New Zealand tour yielded three straight losses and quashed their hopes of defending their title.

Gay lays marker

ATHLETICS: America's Tyson Gay underlined his status as a genuine threat to world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt with the fastest time in the world this year at the Aviva London Grand Prix last night.

A week after ending Bolt's two-year unbeaten streak in Stockholm, Gay defied a groin problem and damp conditions to win the 100m in 9.78 seconds.

"I wasn't expecting to go that fast in these conditions but I knew I was in good shape and was going to go fast," Gay said.

MLB: Cleveland 2 Seattle 3, Washington 4 Arizona 2, Tampa Bay 0 Baltimore 5, NY Mets 1 Philadelphia 0, Cincinnati 7 Florida 2, Atlanta 1 LA Dodgers 0, Texas 10 Boston 9 (11 innings) Houston 4 Pittsburgh 1, Chicago White Sox 8 Detroit 4, Kansas City 4 NY Yankees 3, Minnesota 4 Oakland 3, St Louis 6 Chicago Cubs 3, Colorado 5 Milwaukee 4, LA Angels 0 Toronto 3, San Francisco 2 San Diego 3