ABs dubbed 'supreme team'

Richie McCaw (Getty Images)
Richie McCaw (Getty Images)

Wellington - New Zealand hailed the All Blacks' stunning 38-27 victory over the Springboks to clinch the Rugby Championship at the weekend as "one of the all-time great games".

The All Blacks "are now unequivocally and undoubtedly the supreme team in world rugby," Fairfax Media columnist Marc Hinton wrote on Sunday as he led an outpouring of praise in the rugby-obsessed nation.

With New Zealand still recovering from the last month's shock of losing yachting's holy grail, the America's Cup, the All Blacks dominance was a much-needed tonic.

The emphatic way they achieved it was also seen as partly easing the heartache of losing the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in extra time to South Africa.

The win at Ellis Park in Johannesburg was only the fourth time in 12 attempts the All Blacks have beaten their arch-rivals at the spiritual home of South African rugby.

In the showdown between the two top-ranked sides in the world, the All Blacks outscored the Springboks five tries to four as they claimed the premier Southern Hemisphere competition for a second consecutive year.

"This match, one the rugby world had waited for, will go down as one of the all-time greats," rugby writer Liam Napier said on the Stuff website.

In a dig at the All Blacks' opponents on their upcoming northern hemisphere tour in November -- France, England and Ireland -- the Herald on Sunday said the Springbok clash was likely to be the All Blacks "toughest test of the year".

"They stood up to the physicality of the Boks and in the end had too much skill and fitness for the home side."

The All Blacks finished unbeaten in their six championship matches and picked up a further four bonus points to finish on 28, nine points clear of South Africa on 19, with Australia third on nine and Argentina on two.

Going into the final round of the four-team competition, South Africa needed to score at least four tries, win the game, and deny the All Blacks any bonus points.

But playing on their favourite ground, the Springboks could only achieve the four-try target, one less than the All Blacks.

"Steve Hansen's All Blacks have proven their mettle in the most testing of circumstances to pull off one of their finest victories in Test match history," Hinton said.

There was solace for TV3's Shaun Summerfield who recalled the World Cup final at the same ground 18 years ago and he "sensed finally, the ghosts of 1995 fading away."

Fairfax highlighted that the All Blacks became the first team to record 50 Test wins against the Boks and extended their unbeaten run this year to nine games.

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