Cape Town thriller just what world rugby needed

Rieko Ioane got on the score sheet during New Zealand's narrow win over South Africa. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

My first reaction after the All Blacks beat the Springboks 25-24 was: thank goodness, the Springboks are back.

That's the sort of rugby we all want to see, competitive and hard with the result going down to the wire. There were some fantastic touches from both teams with guys pushing the boundaries, some of them to places they hadn't been before.

Delaying halftime and playing nearly 10 minutes of extra time was testament to the attitudes of both teams; they didn't want to give the each other an inch. They were pushing themselves beyond physical limits; there were a number of players from both sides who did that. South Africa tried it on and our boys matched them. The rate at which both of sides were recycling ball and avoiding turning it over was truly outstanding.

There will always be drama surrounding such games, and remember that in the last three or four years there have been some brilliant Test matches played between the two sides in South Africa.

One of the dramatic moments was the red card incident involving Damian de Allende's charge on Lima Sopoaga after the replacement fly-half had attempted a dropped goal. Whether it was a yellow- or red card didn't really make any difference; it was in the 72nd minute so he was never going to get back on the field.

But when you think if he hadn't done it, and the kick missed anyway, then what occurred was a disservice to South African rugby. De Allende's eyes were 100 percent on going for Sopoaga, he never pulled out. It was a key moment in the game, the South African had to make a decision and he didn't.

The other incident was Ryan Crotty's try and I was surprised by some of the comments made in the coverage of the game about what constituted downward pressure. There has never been a law in the game that says a try must be scored with the hands creating the downward pressure. You should expect better understanding of the requirements of the laws if you are in a position to comment.

We used to joke that you could actually score by sitting on the ball. How often when a maul rumbles over the line, or a pushover scrum, do players actually have the ball in their hands? It could be against their chest or stomach. So long as there wasn't a knock-on involved, and they didn't think there was, Crotty's was a try all the way.

It highlights just how much commentators can influence public opinion as a result of the way they react.

Where the All Blacks had it over South Africa ultimately was in their ability to create, and take, half chances. Damian McKenzie's try was one example and Rieko Ioane's another. In both cases, South Africa had worked very hard. But a moment of brilliance from the All Blacks, and two errors by the Springboks in which they took their eye off the ball, allowed the All Blacks the opportunities and they capitalised on them in typical fashion to claim the game. The speed from McKenzie and Ioane was sensational.

It was a great Test match.

Sadly it wasn't all rosy for New Zealand with Nehe Milner-Skudder cut down by injury again, although that will afford development opportunities are there for other players.

The Crusaders' David Havili looks every bit at home in the black jersey and when you think Ben Smith is on sabbatical, Jordie Barrett will be back next year; so too Israel Dagg; and you have McKenzie and Havili doing their thing, then there is some great material coming off the production line in the New Zealand game.

These are all x-factor players and the All Blacks selectors are going to face a huge, but good, conundrum when it comes to choosing their Rugby World Cup squad for 2019. Some very good players are going to miss out.

For all that, and there hasn't been a lot of comment on the fact, I think the game demonstrated what a key player Brodie Retallick is to the All Blacks. He was sadly absent from the game, but he is the thermometer of this All Black pack, an enforcer who's 6ft 10in and someone who has the muscle to mix it with the South Africans.

That's nothing against Scott Barrett, he is a fine player who did a good job. But he is still learning the ropes.

Retallick is on a different level and he can match fire with fire with the South African forwards. It's time in the saddle in his case. He's a former World Rugby Player of the Year and he has a reputation, and everyone knows who he is and how tough he can be. Opponents know they are going to be up against a significant player when he is playing, just like Victor Matfield used to be for South Africa.

The forward battle was a ding-dong affair and I thought both front-rows, the starters and the substitutes, had great games. There is no tougher pack to play at home than South Africa. Kane Hames was up against it with Ruan Dreyer. Dreyer was constantly looking to work his right shoulder and if Hames didn't sort that out there was going to be trouble. But he generally did and the New Zealanders could be proud of their scrummaging effort.

On reflection, I think you would have to say that the 57-0 Albany result was one of those "once in a blue moon" games that come along occasionally. The Springboks weren't that far away and just didn't execute when they had their chances while the All Blacks did.

It just goes to show that with the right mental mindset and attitude you can change anything. Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth threw caution to the wind and went for it in Cape Town. That's not something you can coach into players, it comes from within and they showed how powerful that internal force could be.

Now the All Blacks have a chance to think about their Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia in Brisbane next week. You only have to look back to their effort in Dunedin to know that you can never take the Australians lightly.

They finished second in the Rugby Championship so they will be looking to finish their home season on a high and the All Blacks know they can't drop their guard. But the All Blacks are also aware that the opposition are always wanting to take them down and Australia will be no different.