New Zealand top Rugby Championship with SA win

Brodie Retallick

New Zealand moved above South Africa in the Rugby Championship with a gruelling 29-15 win in Auckland.

Two tries from captain Kieran Read and a score from lock Brodie Retallick put the All Blacks in charge, before Sam Cane sealed their bonus point.

Kiwi fly-half Dan Carter suffered a serious shoulder injury in the first half in a hit from Bismarck du Plessis, who was sin-binned and later sent off.

Australia won their first points with a tight 14-13 win against Argentina.

The Wallabies now move above Argentina in the table after their home victory, but it was a match that had little bearing on the top-of-the-table battle between New Zealand and South Africa.

New Zealand, who also lost captain Richie McCaw to a knee injury sustained against Argentina last week, led 17-10 at half time after a bruising opening period at Eden Park.

Read crossed from an early attacking line-out and Retallick finished a sweeping movement sparked by Beauden Barrett's 50-metre burst downfield while Du Plessis was off the pitch for the tackle on Carter.

Carter converted Read's try before Barrett slotted a conversion and penalty for the All Blacks, while South Africa fly-half Morne Steyn slotted an early penalty and converted Du Plessis' 31st minute try from a rolling maul.

The Springbok hooker was then sent off on 42 minutes after a second yellow for elbowing Liam Messam, though the decision to show yellow for his tackle on Carter was judged to be harsh afterwards.

South Africa felt aggrieved, particularly after a strong first half on a ground they had not won at since 1937, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen defended the decision.

"In an intense battle like that, you're going to get moments and a referee has to make decisions in those moments," said Hansen, who added that Carter could be out for up to six weeks with a damaged AC joint in his shoulder.

"Perhaps Bismarck [du Plessis] may have been unlucky on Dan [Carter]'s yellow card but he probably got the other ones right.

"I don't think it is legal to go putting your elbow in some one's throat - the second card may well have been a red one rather than a yellow.

"But we have got no complaints. That's rugby and you just have to get on with it."

Following the sending off, Read grabbed his second try after sustained build-up and the All Blacks spent the majority of the remainder of the match on the attack with Cane grabbing the bonus-point try.

Replacement back Patrick Lambie scored a consolation try for the Springboks with five minutes remaining and the All Blacks reduced to 13 men after Read and Ma'a Nonu were sin-binned in quick succession.

New Zealand moved four points clear of South Africa on 18 points with two rounds of matches to come.

Australia moved to four points, two clear of Argentina after their narrow win in Perth.

The home side led 14-3 after a try from Israel Folau and three penalties from Christian Lealiifano, but the Pumas gave the hosts a nervy final 20 minutes with Nicolas Sanchez's penalty and a try from Juan Leguizamon.

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