New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw admitted his side were pushed to the limit during their 38-27 victory over South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The win clinched a second straight Rugby Championship for the All Blacks and, on this occasion, was achieved with a 100 per cent record.
The visitors to Johannesburg were forced to endure 20 minutes with 14 men following yellow cards for Liam Messam and Ben Franks.
This thrilling fixture featured nine tries - five of these from the Kiwis - but McCaw accepted his team had been in a battle.
The flanker said: "We had to dig deep, both teams came here willing to play. We played with 14 men for 20 minutes, add into that a bit of travel, and it was a very satisfying win.
"Going behind we could easily have got flustered but the guys hung in there. We took our chances really well and there were times when we were under a lot of pressure and then got a critical turnover."
"The try on half-time was critical. I'm sure it changed their half-time talk. But credit to the Boks, they came out in the second half and scored again quickly, though we were able to keep ourselves ahead in the game."
"There is very little between these teams and they put us under a hell of a lot of pressure. It's the same every game I have played against the Boks, if you don't get it 100 per cent right you are in trouble."