To come back and win from a situation where a lot of teams would have crumbled under the pressure is perhaps the best example of how much self-belief actually exists within the current All Blacks group.
South Africa defended brilliantly in the first half after kicking possession away and giving the All Blacks opportunities in the red zone on multiple occasions. The All Blacks tried to throw the ball across the park and fatigue the Springsboks defense, but with all the phases and all the possession, South Africa went into the sheds at halftime up by five points.
Fans in New Zealand were quick to take to social media and air their concerns.
Daniel Carter’s drop kick proved the difference on the scoreboard, but that wasn’t the real story of the semi final.
The resolve of the All Blacks against almost unbreakable defense has to be applauded. The two tries that the All Blacks scored were as a result of open space not poor tackling, and on the surface of it, South Africa had a better second half but couldn’t take the moment when it came, that moment being an attacking lineout in All Black territory that led to a turnover.
South Africa, through frustration at brilliant defense that wasn’t turning into regular points, abandoned their game plan and never recovered.
Self-belief is rife, that is the only way to remain calm in situations like the All Blacks found themselves in at halftime in the semi final against South Africa, the ability and understanding to know that the moment will come, and when it does, focus on the execution.
Ma’a Nonu setting up Beauden Barrett’s try is a prime example. Nonu stayed calm and drew in the defense, but it was Barrett that executed to perfection, remaining behind Nonu and ready to receive the pass to dash to the line.
20-18 is a tight score line, but considering the high penalty count and points deficit that faced the All Blacks for the majority of the match, their victory was one of the most well executed comebacks in recent memory.
This is the best All Blacks side of all time.