Gutsy All Blacks extend lead in world rugby rankings

Each side scored three tries in a thrilling spectacle as South Africa restored some pride with a competitive display after being beaten by a record 57-0 scoreline in New Zealand last month.

They twice held the lead in the second half only to be pegged back by the world champions, with a converted try from Malcolm Marx in the closing stages leaving South Africa agonisingly short at the final whistle. They played their hearts out there and we just came up two points short. The difference was the All Blacks' ability to seize game-changing chances.

The coach said the hard work was starting to pay off for the team: "The players are enjoying playing for the Springboks", he said.

Their level dropped off in the second half against the Pumas and was indicative of a season where the team has failed to sustain their performance for 80 minutes.

Since winning the World Cup in 2015, New Zealand have amassed 19 wins, one draw and two losses- to the Irish in the US and the second Lions test in Wellington on July 1. What it showed us is we've got to be in the right mindset otherwise we're vulnerable.

"It's not a ideal formula and I believe it's a positive that we can move between that direct style of play and using more width, and we can also pressure teams with our kicking game", said Coetzee.

The team suffered a first loss on home soil this year when they were edged 25-24 by the All Blacks, who finished the Rugby Championship undefeated and retained the title they won in 2016.

Coetzee will now switch his focus to South Africa's tour of Europe in November and December, when they play Tests against Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.

File: New Zealand All Blacks vs South Africa Springboks - Auckland, New Zealand - September 16, 2017 New Zealand's Anton Lienert-Brown runs through South African defence.

Sopoaga comes off the bench.

"It'll give our younger players who haven't been in that situation before a little bit of belief that even though it's tough, you can find a way", Hansen said.

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