New Zealand survived an almighty scare from South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday to finish the Rugby Championship unbeaten while, at the same time, marginally increasing their cushion at the top of the World Rugby Rankings.
The All Blacks came up against a Springboks side unrecognisable from the one that shipped 57 unanswered points in Albany last month, but they held their nerve to win through by 25-24, earning 0.31 of a rating point and boosting their overall tally to 95.52, to give them a 5.38-point advantage over England.
Meanwhile, Australia claimed second place in the Rugby Championship and third place in the World Rugby Rankings, climbing above Ireland and South Africa, after signing off with a 37-20 win over bottom-of-the-table Argentina in Mendoza.
Michael Cheika’s side are now on 85.59 points, after a gain of 0.93 of a point, two-tenths more than Ireland and a fraction over half a point more than the Springboks.
As they have done so often this season, Argentina competed well for long periods – the scores were level at 13-13 at half-time – but were unable to sustain their challenge to the end.
Los Pumas stay in 10th place in the rankings but with only a 3.14-point cushion over nearest rivals Japan.