New Zealand make it 14 wins from 14 in 2013 - here's how they did it
Last Updated: 25/11/13 5:16pm
The first of December 2012 is the last time New Zealand lost a game of rugby.
Their reaction to that 38-21 loss to England has been incredible as they have raised the bar even further when it comes to rugby and, after beating Ireland in astounding circumstances on Sunday, they have completed the odyssey of winning all 14 games this season.
Under Steve Hansen, the All Blacks have firmly cemented their place at the top of the IRB rankings and many experts believe they are well placed to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups. Considering their record in past World Cups, that may be a little premature but with young stars like Brodie Retallic, Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett and Charles Piutau making waves, this side could well become the greatest All Black side ever.
New Zealand 23-13 France, 08 June 2013, Auckland
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen was unhappy with his side's "ugly" performance in the 23-13 victory over France. France led for most of the first half in Auckland but two converted tries in the space of five minutes swung the game in the world champions' favour.
New Zealand 30-0 France, 15 June 2013, Christchurch
Hansen was much happier a week later when his side produced a superb defensive display to keep Les Bleus scoreless. "Defence wins games because it shows the attitude of the team and what they're about with each other," explained Hansen. "That comes from off-the-field stuff as much as it does on."
New Zealand 24-9 France, 22 June 2013, New Plymouth
New Zealand completed a 3-0 series victory over France after prevailing 24-9 in Saturday's third and final Test at New Plymouth. Ben Smith's 38th-minute try and four Dan Carter penalties put the All Blacks in control before hometown boy Beauden Barrett ended the series with a fairytale try in the last play of the game when he latched onto Ben Smith's clever kick over the top to score.
Australia 29-47 New Zealand, 7 Aug, 2013, Sydney
Hansen paid tribute to All Black captain Richie McCaw, who played his first Test in almost nine months following a sabbatical - and it was like he had never been away. "For Richie to get through 70 minutes after having his break - and everyone doubting him - just shows the character of the bloke once again," said Hansen. Aaron Cruden also stepped up with a fine display to show that there will be life after Dan Carter retires.
New Zealand 27-16 Australia, 24 Aug, Wellington
Injuries to Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett meant that Tom Taylor made his All Black debut - and what a debut it was! His 14-point haul helped New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup against Australia for the 11th successive season with a comfortable win at Westpac Stadium.
New Zealand 28-13 Argentina, 7 Sept, Hamilton
New Zealand made it three wins from three in the Rugby Championship with the win over the Pumas. Kieran Read produced an inspirational performance to break Argentina's spirit, demonstrating his handling skill, vision and patience in creating two tries at vital times to make light of difficult conditions caused by drizzle throughout the game.
New Zealand 29-15 South Africa, 14 Sept, Auckland
The battle of the two best sides in the world was overshadowed by controversy that ultimately ended the contest after 'bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis was red carded. His fair tackle on Dan Carter - which saw Carter suffer an injury - was deemed a shoulder charge and he received his first yellow and another act of 'dangerous' play prompted a second yellow and an automatic red card.
Argentina 15-33 New Zealand, 29 Sept, 2013, La Plata
A late try from Ben Smith secured a vital bonus point as New Zealand moved a step closer to clinching the Rugby Championship with victory over Argentina. The All Blacks found themselves trailing at the start of the second half before two tries in the space of five minutes gave them a comfortable cushion. That meant that the Springboks would have to win with a bonus point to take the title away from the Kiwis. "They are going to have to play some rugby to get four tries. That will suit us as much as it will suit them," said Hansen.
South Africa 27-38 New Zealand, 6 Oct, 2013, Johannesburg
Well, South Africa did score those four tries but New Zealand clinched the Rugby Championship by scoring five in one of the most thrilling games ever. Stuart Barnes was certainly impressed: "An intense atmosphere and an epic game; rugby union shone in its finest light in Ellis Park as the best two teams on the planet delivered one of the finest matches of the century."
New Zealand 41-33 Australia, 19 Oct, 2013, Dunedin
The perfect ten. New Zealand made it ten wins out of ten and maintained their dominance over Australia with victory in their third and final Bledisloe Cup clash of 2013 at Dunedin. The All Blacks overcame the absence of key duo Richie McCaw and Corey Jane to record their third successive win over their Trans-Tasman rivals in a high-scoring thriller at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
New Zealand 54-6 Japan, 2 Nov, 2013, Tokyo
The World Cup winners scored eight tries in total, with Charles Piutau bagging a brace while Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Richie McCaw, Jeremy Thrush, Frank Halai and Beauden Barrett also crossed the whitewash.
New Zealand 26-19 France, 10 Nov, 2013, Paris
France pushed the All Blacks all the way in Paris as Morgan Parra popped over four penalties before converting Brice Dulin's late try to set up a thrilling finish. The hosts looked in prime position to snatch a draw when they twice had scrums five metres out from the New Zealand line, only to waste the opportunities and let their opponents off the hook.
All Blacks 30-22 England, 17 Nov, 2013, London
A year ago England had produced one of their finest performances to deny New Zealand a perfect year in 2012. It couldn't happen again...could it? England trailed 17-3 early in the game, but battled back to lead 22-20 after a hour but New Zealand were not going to let this happen again and produced a ferocious finish.
All Blacks 24-22 Ireland, 24 Nov, 2013, Dublin
Hollywood could simply not have written the script for what happened in the closing stages at the Aviva Stadium. Down and out at 19-0 behind, down and out again at 22-7 and trailing for the entire game until after the clock had long gone into the red. Jonathan Sexton's missed penalty handed Hansen's men one final chance and boy did they take it. A try from replacement Ryan Crotty ties the scores at 22-22, after much tense TMO deliberation, and Aaron Cruden has a chance to win it with the conversion. He misses...the 100% record is gone. But wait, there is encroachment at the kick (!?!?!?) from the Ireland ranks giving him another chance...and everyone knows what happened next.