New Zealand continued their stranglehold on the Rugby Championship with a 21-11 win over South Africa in Dunedin on Saturday.
While the Springboks will look at this as progress, given that they were in with a real chance of winning, the reality is that they were again their own worst enemies and were denied a bonus point by one of their surfeit of errors.
The Boks left plenty of points out on the park, kicking just two out of nine shots at goal, and simply made too many mistakes to have deserved a win. In
There were two very contrasting styles - New Zealand preferring to play quickly, keep the ball in hand and play wide, while South Africa kicked their usual assortment of high bombs.
While the Springboks matched the All Black pack, at times even dominating, the visitors did not take their all their chances - several kickable penalties and a certain try going to waste. In that first half South Africa also dominated territory.
New Zealand's worst aspect was their poor discipline, as they conceded a string of penalties.
The second half started very much like the first for the Boks, with a golden try-scoring opportunity wasted through a handling error. And the visitors' kicking remained largely ineffective.
In fact South Africa, for brief periods, showed they can threaten when they keep the ball in hand.
However, the biggest loss was that there was no impact off the bench - Dean Greyling, Tiaan Liebenberg and Andries Bekker all contributing more to the All Black cause than their own team.
The Bok defence was very good early on, with some big hits by Willem Alberts.
However, the Boks released the pressure when they were free-kicked at the first two scrums for engaging too early. They also conceded a couple of turnovers by not holding on to the ball.
In fact, South Africa butchered a certain try when Zane Kirchner threw a shocker to Bryan Habana with an open tryline.
The Boks' next scoring opportunity came in the 10th minute, when Bryan Habana affected a penalty at the tackle and Frans Steyn stepped up from 45-metres out on the angle. Unfortunately he was well wide.
Despite giving away a penalty, which gifted the All Blacks a line-out on the Bok 22, South Africa's defence continued to hold out the Kiwis and eventually win a turnover.
South Africa's second kickable penalty came in the 17th minute, courtesy of a strong maul and a few good rucks. Morné Steyn, from about 40 metres out, opened the scoring - 3-0.
However, the All Blacks immediately made the Springboks pay for their a poor kick - a counter started deep inside their own half and with Israel Dagg very prominent in supporting the ball carrier, the fullback collected the last pass from Kieran read to score the opening try. The ability of the Kiwis to offload in the tackle is what set up the score. Aaron Cruden was wide with the conversion attempt - 5-3.
A few minutes later Duane Vermeulen gained his team penalty at the tackle when he latched onto the ball very quickly, but Morné Steyn faded it past the upright.
In the 30th minute, following obstructive running by Conrad Smith, Frans Steyn had a shot from almost 10 metres inside his own half. This time he had the direction, but was just short.
Two minutes later Kieran Read was penalised after again flopping all over the ball on the South African side of a ruck again. This time Morné Steyn shaved the upright on the wrong side.
Right on half-time Tony Woodcock was penalised for taking out the support player at a line-out, but Morné Steyn was again wide.
Despite butchering another try early in the second half, the Boks continued their early dominance and Bryan Habana scored a five-pointer for the Boks - a brilliant individual try when he first cut the line, then chipped and collected to score in the right corner - sheer genius! Morné Steyn's kicking woes continued, but at 8-5 the Boks had the lead again.
The Boks' inability to kick effectively continued to cost them, with Dean Greyling conceding a ruck penalty within a minute of coming on and Aaron Cruden levelling the scores with half-and-hour to go.
And the Kiwis made the Boks pay even more when Aaron Smith stepped past Flip van der Merwe at a ruck to score another brilliant individual try as the visitors seemed to drop their intensity. This time Cruden converted - 15-8, with a quarter of the match remaining.
The Boks seemed to lose the plot completely, with replacement Dean Greyling getting yellow carded within minutes after coming on - a filthy elbow in the face of Richie McCaw.
Aaron Cruden missed a penalty shortly before Bok replacement Johann Goosen was just short with a shot from inside his half.
Goosen managed to get the Boks back into the game with just over 10 minutes left on the clock, when he slotted a kick from just under 50 metres - after yet another Tony Woodcock transgression.
Cruden managed to restore the seven-point lead with just over five minutes left, but the penalty will be debated for some time.
Cruden missed a penalty shot a minutes from time, when he hit the upright, and had another right on full-time - this time slotting it to deny the visitors a bonus point.
Man of the match: Willem Alberts put in some big early hits, while Francois Louw managed the odd turnover. Duane Vermeulen also produced some strong carries. Then there was Bryan Habana - not just his high workrate, which included great kick chasing, but that sublime try 10 minutes into the second half that showed he has lost none of his genius. For New Zealand Aaron Smith showed his class with a great individual try minutes after coming on. However, our award goes to Israel Dagg. He was very good in starting counters and supporting the ball carrier, he was also rock solid at the back, often returning the Boks' kicks with interest. But it is his clearance kicks under pressure that were most impressive.
Moment of the match: You can look at Bryan Habana's try 49th minute try, a sublime individual effort. However, the turning point was Aaron Smith's try in the 60th minute, when he stepped past a defender and sprinted over for a sublime try.
Villain of the match: Tony Woodcock conceded simply too many mindless penalties - which include dangerous play. Luke Romano followed him closely in the penalty stakes. However, Dean Greyling gets the award for conceding a penalty within a minute of coming on and then getting yellow carded for hitting Richie McCaw with an elbow minutes later - he cost his team any momentum they had and with that the chance of winning this game. And he is certain to visit a disciplinary hearing next week.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Dagg, A Smith
Pens: Cruden 2
For South Africa:
Pens: M Steyn, Goosen
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Tamati Ellison.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 François Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 François Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Vinny Munro at New Zealand)