Tuesday, October 02, 2012
All Blacks eager to beat South Africa and keep clean sheet
By Ken Borland
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - New Zealand would love to complete an unbeaten Rugby Championship campaign by defeating South Africa in Soweto on Saturday, players said on Monday.
The All Blacks sealed the inaugural championship crown with their 54-15 drubbing of Argentina in La Plata at the weekend, taking them to 21 points in the standings.
The second-placed Springboks rebounded from disappointing results on the road to hammer Australia 31-8 in Pretoria and go to 12 points in the southern hemisphere event.
"We've won the Rugby Championship but we've parked that and we're now focused on winning in South Africa," All Blacks loose forward Sam Cane told reporters.
"If you talk to the older guys, they'll tell you it's more rewarding winning here than beating the Springboks at home. The guys that have been around a while really love testing themselves against the best here, it's one of the toughest places to win."
Lock Sam Whitelock said the All Blacks wanted to maintain their winning streak that stretched to 15 games going back to the start of their triumphant World Cup campaign last year.
"It's really nice that we've put the trophy away but this weekend will be a massive challenge," he said. "It would be great to start off a new competition with a clean sweep.
"Last year didn't go so well for us in Port Elizabeth and South Africa are always hard to beat at home. But that's the beauty of international rugby, you have to perform week in and week out. All you need is one game to not go well and all your good work can unravel," Whitelock said.
"We're expecting a typical All Blacks-Springboks test on Saturday, with massive body collisions. It will surely be physical, the body will take a bit of a hammering."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)