Carter composed as All Blacks edge Boks

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Carter composed as All Blacks edge Boks

New Zealand talisman Dan Carter had to take it upon himself to drive the All Blacks into the World Cup final in their tense last four clash with South Africa.

The master fly-half kicked 10 points and set up the second-half try that took New Zealand to a 20-18 victory over the Springboks in the semi-final at Twickenham on Saturday.

“You’re never waiting for someone else to spark things up,” he said.

“The last thing I wanted to do was to sit back and wait for something to happen. If I had an opportunity to try and influence the game and the team then I tried to do that.

“No-one in that second half was waiting back. They all wanted to make a statement and help the team. That’s the beauty of this side.

“It’s a couple of key moments in the second half that we won and in these important games, it comes down to only one or two moments – and we took them.”

It was back-to-back star performances by Carter who was also instrumental in guiding New Zealand in their 62-13 demolition of France in the quarter-finals last week.

The All Blacks could not play with the same latitude against South Africa and trailed their arch-rivals 12-7 at half-time.

They were also a man down with Jerome Kaino having nine minutes remaining in the sin-bin after the restart.

But with the odds against them, Carter stepped up.

He kicked over a drop goal to cut the deficit to 12-10 then stole the ball from the Springboks’ outstanding forward Schalk Burger to trigger the All Blacks’ second try by Beauden Barrett.

In a six-minute burst, Carter was directly responsible for 10 points, giving the All Blacks a lead they never surrendered.

Carter said he decided to go for the drop goal “about 20 seconds before I snapped it.

“It was probably more of a psychological blow than anything. When you’re down to 14 men and for the Boks to concede points at that stage can be tough,” he said.

“You’ve actually got to work a lot harder when you’re down to 14 men,” he added.

“It shouldn’t take us to be down to 14 men to spark up like that. But it’s something about this side then when we’re put under pressure or down to 14 men, we really lift as a team.”

South African coach Heyneke Meyer said the drop goal was the turning point.

“I always said before the World Cup, a drop goal, three points, can be the difference, and all credit to Carter.

“When they needed it,he put it through.”

The defending champions await the outcome of Sunday’s second semi-final between Australia and Argentina.

Carter, who joins Racing92 in France after the World Cup, has struggled with injury in recently years and played in only 21 of the All Blacks’ 49 games between the 2011 World Cup and this tournament.

But New Zealand backs coach Ian Foster insisted: “He’s in the form we need him to be right now.

“To control this team they way he is controlling it is outstanding.

“He’s reaping the rewards from some of that really hard work when he’s had to come back from injuries. To see him out there now, playing freely, and running around with a smile on his face is outstanding.”

With his points haul from the match, Carter became the first non-England player to pass 100 points at Twickenham. He also became New Zealand’s leading World Cup point scorer with 172, two more than the previous record held by Grant Fox.

Facing Carter, now in the twilight of his career, was the Springboks’ rising fly-half Handre Pollard.

“He’s never, ever average. He’s always great. That’s why his probably the best fly-half in the world,” Pollard said of his opposite number.

“It was nice playing against him. I thought that drop goal was absolutely brilliant to put them on the front foot.”

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