All Blacks v Springboks: New Zealand clinch Rugby Championship with clutch Jordie Barrett penalty to sink South Africa

A Jordie Barrett penalty has helped the All Blacks escape with a 19-17 win over South Africa to clinch the 2021 Rugby Championship title in a tense 100th test between the storied rivals in Townsville.

With two minutes to play, substitute Quinn Tupaea swooped on a ruck to win a defensive penalty, setting the stage for Barrett to step forth and nail a difficult shot from 40m on the angle to hand the All Blacks victory in a heart-stopping finale to a dour contest.

The mistake-ridden All Blacks never found their rhythm in an often ugly match, as South Africa expertly slowed down the game and executed their unapologetically one-dimensional gameplan founded on towering high kicks, staunch defence and surgical setpiece.

But as the lead see-sawed through the second half, the New Zealanders - boosted by their bench - bit down on their mouthguards and scrapped their way into some advantageous field position to earn the last of what seemed an endless stream of penalties from English referee Luke Pearce.

The All Blacks got off to the ideal start, as - with less than two minutes played - Codie Taylor cleaned up some loose ball and turned to accelerate into clear spaces, sending Will Jordan to finish the final 40m of the movement for the game's first try.

But the Springboks responded immediately, when George Bridge completely lost sight of a Faf De Klerk bomb, which then bounced up perfectly for S'bu Nkosi to ease over the line from a metre out.

Five minutes from halftime, the All Blacks were denied what looked to be a certain try,as Nkosi slapped a pass down intentionally with Jordan heading into a huge hole from 22m out.

There was a clear argument to be made for a penalty try but referee Pearce settled with a yellow card on the basis he believed covering defenders were making their way across to cut off the line.

Pollard and Barrett traded penalties to send the All Blacks into the sheds with at halftime with a slender 13-11 advantage.

The South Africans persisted with their no-frills approach in the second half and the All Blacks had little answer for it, struggling to deal with the aerial barrage and at setpiece, particularly at the lineout.

And while the All Blacks were able to create holes in the Springboks' defensive line, uncharacteristic handling errors continually killed off their attacking momentum.

On the flipside of that coin, the South Africans scarcely threatened the NZ defensive line, as any possession they came across was immediately sent skyward as part of their 'kick and hope' tactics, which were paying dividends.

Nevertheless, the game opened up just enough in the dying stages, as the north Queensland heat began to take its toll, and the fresh legs rom the All Blacks bench and the boot of Barrett helped them escape with their collective hand raised in an impressive display of character.

On a night bereft of many clear-cut individual stand-outs, flanker Ethan Blackadder was relentless after receiving a late call-up to the starting side due to Luke Jacobson's illness, while Jordie Barrett's heroics and courage under the bomb were to be applauded.

All Blacks 19 (Will Jordan try; Jordie Barrett con, 4 pen) Springboks 17 (Sbu Nkosi try; Handre Pollard 4 pens) HT: 13-11.