Their rivalry might have died a few weeks ago with the 57-0 drubbing in Albany, but South Africa did their best to resurrect one of rugby's famous duels in a 25-24 thriller at Newlands, won by the All Blacks despite a world-class effort from Malcolm Marx and Springbok defiance.
Only in the final ten minutes did New Zealand really do enough to secure the result, Damian McKenzie's try in the corner and resulting conversion coming minutes before South Africa lost Damien de Allende to a red card for a late forearm charge for Lima Sopoaga.
Cape Town had waited nine years for a Test between these two sides and the occasion never disappointed.
For nearly every blistering counter-attack by the All Blacks there was a Springbok turnover to match it, usually by Marx, emulating the great performances in recent times of his predecessor Bismarck du Plessis. The fact that he missed out on the Man of the Match award was a crime.
Nehe Milner-Skudder was the chief supplier of magic in the early stages, including one particularly audacious offload around his back to Aaron Smith, but unlike in their previous romps the tries didn't flow as easily.
Elton Jantjies and Beauden Barrett traded early penalties before New Zealand moved ahead, not long after Rieko Ioane had been denied by a desperate tackle from Andries Coetzee as he reached for the line.
Ryan Crotty's try was less clear cut initially, resulting from a Jantjies charge down by Barrett who then hacked on, with the resulting chaos brought to a close by Crotty as he promptly dove on the ball, failing to ground, and instead knocking it back under his chest with the resulting down pressure leading to a score and an 8-3 lead.
Twice South Africa kicked to touch after the half-time hooter, the new laws allowing them to take the lineout, which led to the game clock hitting 50 minutes before the first half was finally wrapped up.
South Africa's response was excellent, Ross Cronje with composed finish against the base of the post all stemming from a smart lineout move that let Marx loose rampaging down the touchline.
Jantjies' conversion edged the Springboks ahead but all New Zealand need is a sniff of a mistake. When a shoveled pass went forward off Courtnall Skosan, Ioane was there to pounce, sprinting away to make the score 15-10.
Another quick reply from the hosts, scoring through Jean-Luc du Preez following Marx's break and assist, hinted that South Africa's recent record of two wins in 16 matches against the All Blacks was on the verge of improvement.
Not so fast. South Africa were better, far better, but were still undone by a David Havili run to release McKenzie and then De Allende's contentious red card, although why he put himself in that position in the first place is a mystery.
New Zealand as a result wrap up the tournament with six wins from six and 28 out of 30 points, triumphant in Cape Town even with first-half injuries to Barrett and Milner-Skudder, not to mention missing Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Ben Smith and more.
Allister Coetzee's Springboks might have only managed two victories, yet he should take heart from the improved physicality and the emergence of Marx as a world-leading talent in what remains a young side ahead of travelling to Europe. Their supporters can believe again.
Praise for the little wizard
"What a game, what a crowd. Awesome to be here at Newlands and we have to give credit to the Springboks I think."
"It did take 80 minutes plus for us to get over the line and sometimes that's going to happen. I'm proud of the lads for doing that."
"The guys were all warriors out there tonight. I'm so proud of them. Thanks so much for the support, it's definitely not the result we wanted."
Post-match quotes coming up
Overheard over the referee's mic just then as the coverage closed out was Francois Louw saying "Champions Cup rugby next week!"
Put the Bath flanker in some ice, and the rest of the players. That was a hell of a Test. The rivalry might not be dead after all, although it has a long way to go. More of these fixtures will help that cause.
FULL-TIME: South Africa 24-25 New Zealand
Phases building, Boks now at the ten-metre mark in their half. Pressure building from the NZ defence, crowd on their feet as the hooter goes. Next play kills the game... NZ have turned it over! Sopoaga into touch and New Zealand win the Test match!
It's been a breathtaking clash and a tribute to the rivalry between these two proud rugby nations.
80 mins: South Africa 24-25 New Zealand
Mostert takes the restart, Leyds bringing it out of the 22. South Africa very deep in their half but looking for the winning penalty or try.
TRY MARX! CONVERSION JANTJIES! South Africa 24-25 New Zealand
The maul works! Marx gets a deserved score having had the game of his life. Key conversion coming up for Jantjies... over! One-point game! 90 seconds left.
78 mins: South Africa 17-25 New Zealand
Jantjies with an excellent touchfinder, right into the corner. Boks will hope to get the maul going.
Kitshoff departs after a phenomenal shift on his first Test start.
PENALTY SOPOAGA! South Africa 17-25 New Zealand
Slight worry for Sopoaga but the kick is through, extending the gap to eight points. Long road to victory now for the Boks.
RED CARD DE ALLENDE! South Africa 17-22 New Zealand
De Allende after the drop goal clatters into Sopoaga's neck with his elbow/forearm. Long review and De Allende sees red! Sopoaga over straight away to shake his hand.
75 mins: South Africa 17-22 New Zealand
All Blacks hit 12 phases, Sopoaga in the pocket... wide! Drop drifts left.
De Allende having a possible infringement as Garces takes a look, Etzebeth down for treatment.
73 mins: South Africa 17-22 New Zealand
Patient phase play from SA before the All Blacks turn it over! Deep in the SA 22, is this the killer blow...
CONVERSION SOPOAGA! South Africa 17-22 New Zealand
Touchline kick from Sopoaga! That could be huge as the lead stretches to five. Action shot of McKenzie below.
TRY MCKENZIE! South Africa 17-20 New Zealand
SA around 40 metres out. Steal from Tuipulotu! Sopoaga goes high, fielded just about by Leyds. SA all the way back to their 22.
Cronje gets a box kick away over halfway. Wonderful from Havili, beating a couple and the offload out the back... McKenzie is gooooooonnneeee! The full-back races away to finish in the corner!
Can the All Blacks play in Africa every week? Always the best tests.— Liam Napier (@liamnapiernz) 7 October 2017
67 mins: South Africa 17-15 New Zealand
All Blacks building before McKenzie spills it, and then comes the penalty for SA, big chance to clear.
CONVERSION POLLARD! South Africa 17-15 New Zealand
Extra two from Pollard and the Boks lead again at Newlands. What a finish we have coming up.
TRY DU PREEZ! South Africa 15-15 New Zealand
What a response! That man Marx again with the great run after Pollard's offload. Du Preez on his inside to support and he goes over. Wonderfully worked try that and the game is back on!
61 mins: South Africa 10-15 New Zealand
Cross-field kick from Sopoaga works out, ball bouncing but back into NZ hands. Tide starting to run. Big hit from Du Preez and then SA get the penalty... Marx again! He has been freakish over the ball at the breakdown today.
Malcolm Marx has more presence in this game than Serge Blanco in the buffet car. Incredible stuff.#RSAvNZL— Blood & Mud (@bloodandmud) 7 October 2017
TRY IOANE! CONVERSION SOPOAGA! South Africa 10-15 New Zealand
Break from Serfontein! Up the right touchline, Boks definitely with the edge at the moment. Huge run from Marx again! Nearly through Smith... INTERCEPT TRY THE OTHER WAY FOR IOANE!
Promising attack cut out ruthlessly by the young winger who has the legs to finish, running in from about 80 metres out. Superb. Conversion added by Sopoaga.
Tough on SA, the pass coming forward off Skosan's hands and one mistake is punished.
56 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Du Preez, Mostert and Pollard all on for the Boks. Kolisi off, what a year he has had so far. Forward off Read trying to swipe the ball away from Cronje.
54 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Long lineout from SA goes to Etzebeth. Boks going backwards, big hits from the defence at halfway.
Turnover! NZ's chance to threaten, touches for Havili and Todd the two replacements. Held up, SA scrum.
52 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Jantjies loses the kicking battle, All Blacks with a lineout around 35 metres out from the SA line. So close! The drift from Sopoaga and then inside ball to McKenzie nearly works, before his offload is touched back by an SA player.
Booted long by Jantjies, McKenzie responding into touch.
50 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Wide right! Had the legs but not the radar. Dreyer off for the Boks, Louw comes on for his Test debut.
49 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Stern word for Dreyer - man that guy loves to give up a penalty - who once more isn't square at the scrum. And then he gets penalised again! Chance for Sopoaga to go for the posts.
47 mins: South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Etzebeth knocks on just shy of halfway. NZ scrum with a good platform.
CONVERSION JANTJIES! South Africa 10-8 New Zealand
Sharp finish by the post by Cronje before Jantjies knocks over the conversion. All Blacks change their front row as Sopoaga restarts.
TRY CRONJE! South Africa 8-8 New Zealand
Side to side SA go, big carries all round. Marx again at the five-metre line. Jantjies just short... advantage now played. SA are over! Cronje sniped from close range and gets his second Test try to level the scores.
42 mins: South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Oh that's cute from the Boks. Short one-two lineout at the front gets Marx thundering down the touchline, bouncing off tacklers and then feeding Kitshoff.
Great move and SA are into the 22. Huge chance of a try.
Second half underway
Jantjies restarts - the Boks more than earned their rest. Smith with the clearance kick to touch near halfway.
This Boks V ABs Test Match is a real example of brute force & strength V skill & Speed. If the Boks had a distributor in the centre....!!— Will Carling (@willcarling) 7 October 2017
Fantastic half of rugby. Great intensity from Boks, and big effort on defence. Question is if they can maintain that when ABs step up gear.— Simon Borchardt (@SimonBorchardt) 7 October 2017
That 50 minute half will benefit the ABs.— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) 7 October 2017
Some big gaps will appear in the Bok defensive chain after 65 mins.
HALF-TIME: South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Promising position for SA after the lineout. Du Toit, Dreyer... five metres short. Turnover penalty by Hames! And now mercilessly Sopoaga taps and then kicks to touch... the 50-minute half is over!
Tight scoreline and neither side at the top of their game, but it's been a thriller to watch. SA much improved from the 57-0 in Albany. Second half on the way.
Creeping up on a 50-minute first half at Newlands. #ballinplay— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) 7 October 2017
40+7 mins: South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Smith with the turnover, maybe NZ will have the final say. Grubber from SBW, fielded by Coetzee. SA trying to play out of their half.
After going nowhere Coetzee goes for touch... and misses! That might hurt the hosts.
All a bit ragged as McKenzie loops with Cane, breathless end to the first half. Squire needs a big tackle as he gets to the 40-metre line. Now up to ten phases, well into overtime. Good counter-ruck from SA but still NZ's ball, reaching the 22.
Penalty SA! Another at the ruck, looks like De Allende. SA go to touch which remember doesn't kill the half now given it went out directly, SA want to play.
Unreal end to this first half, seven minutes into the red, and SA get a penalty! Milner-Skudder worryingly down on the ground as Jantjies lines up a kick to the corner. This half will rumble on.
40 mins - South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Lineout won by NZ who try to set up a maul, but the ball then goes forward, Du Toit getting stuck in there. Last shot of the half then for SA, can they strike?
Good point below on the Boks' frequent kicks for territory.
Don’t have a go at Cronje for kicking, he would have been instructed to do so.— Simon Borchardt (@SimonBorchardt) 7 October 2017
39 mins - South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Monster hit from Coles! SA making very little ground with ball in hand currently as Du Toit goes into touch on the near side.
37 mins - South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
De Jager down for treatment after Milner-Skudder gets wrapped up in the tackle, meaning an NZ scrum. It's been a fun half but also quite scrappy.
35 mins - South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Fingertips for Ioane as he tries to take a McKenzie over-the-top pass, but he can't control it. That was very close indeed. SA scrum deep in their own half.
32 mins - South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
No conversion from McKenzie. B.Barrett off for an HIA so on comes Sopoaga.
TRY CROTTY! South Africa 3-8 New Zealand
Long review, with the footage suggesting that Crotty knocked on. No knock-on from B.Barrett in the build-up when he tried to gather it. Final decision... TMO taking one more look as the official take their time.
So, Crotty effectively knocks it back onto his stomach, with that downward pressure leading to the try being awarded! First of the match as NZ go ahead.
New Zealand review
Possible try! Jantjies charged down by B.Barrett, who then hacks on. Bouncing ball causes chaos behind the try line and then Crotty... does he get a contact? TMO taking a look.
31 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Familiar pattern to this game now, NZ pouncing on the counter-attack after SA fail to make progress through the phases.
Barrett loops well with McKenzie but then his pass goes straight into touch.
29 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Marx again! This guy is phenomenal, the new Bismarck indeed. Another breakdown penalty win for the hooker. SA can now clear out of their 22 and find touch.
27 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Dreyer having a rough time of it at the scrum on the last two, in on the angle there against Hames which gets NZ a penalty. Barrett goes to touch.
25 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Wide! Jantjies' can't land that one. NZ to drop out which Barrett does, going short. Knock-on trying to recover so SA get a central scrum, promising platform outside of the 22.
24 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
SBW offside and Jantjies has a penalty short to restore the lead. Massive bump from Etzebeth on Cane in the build-up.
22 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Action kept in midfield as both teams kick for territory. SA if I'm correct yet to end NZ's 22. Barrett spills a high kick and here come the Boks, Kitshoff running hard.
Now wide as they reach the 22, but Cronje is turned over! NZ trying to counter through Milner-Skudder whose step and offload is completely absurd. Wow again. Play breaks down as we stop for a scrum, Garces speaking to Laulala and Du Toit.
Quality Test so far - this guy loves it.
19 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Flying start to this game for Marx. All Blacks isolated again going for the line and the hooker gets in there to win a penalty. SA clinging on as Jantjies clears to touch.
18 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Monster scrum from the All Blacks. Penalty. And then there's a scuffle with Garces right in the middle - get out of there Jerome!
ABs kick to the corner.
16 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Ioane so close! Searing break from the wing who cuts inside in front of the line, but a hand knocks the ball out as he goes to ground. Desperate work from Kriel and Coetzee.
13 mins - South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
All Blacks building phases up the short side, good ball retention. SBW crashes to the 22 but that looks like a turnover... not quite, Marx very close.
Phase count hits 10, B.Barrett, Laulala x2 and Ioane all getting touches. After 15 phases and some excellent defence, the Boks win a turnover penalty. Kitshoff phenomenal at the breakdown and SA can get out of danger. Quick chat between Kolisi, S.Barrett and Garces after an unnecessary late charge at the ruck from the Kiwi lock.
PENALTY BARRETT! South Africa 3-3 New Zealand
Right off the restart Barrett gets a chance to respond after offside at the restart. He doesn't miss those.
PENALTY JANTJIES! South Africa 3-0 New Zealand
Very nice strike from Jantjies and the Boks lead at Newlands.
That Milner-Skudder pass... mercy me.
8 mins - South Africa 0-0 New Zealand
Hands in the ruck from Whitelock - chance for Jantjies to open the scoring from 45 metres out with a penalty right down the middle.
7 mins - South Africa 0-0 New Zealand
Milner-Skudder with the most audacious offload of the year, surely. Wow. Nearly leads to a try on the counter for NZ for Aaron Smith but South Africa recover and clear. Read then knocks on at the lineout, good contest from Etzebeth.
4 mins - South Africa 0-0 New Zealand
First scrum of the day, SA's pack slightly heavier at 913kg to NZ's 904kg. New loosehead for the Boks with Kitshoff in for Beast. SA on top in the opening engagements before Cronje's box kick. Back for a penalty against Hames for collapsing.
2 mins - South Africa 0-0 New Zealand
Good up and under from McKenzie but Coetzee does well. SA up to halfway. High kick well taken by Barrett and now the All Blacks' chance to attack. Offload from Squire goes into touch.
Kick-off at Newlands!
Beauden Barrett does the honours - we are underway. Taken by Louw and Coetzee exits, but not to touch.
Aaron Smith leads the haka
No TJ Perenara today in the 23 so Aaron Smith does the honours.
What a setting
Table Mountain looming behind the stand as South Africa's anthem rings out.
Time for the anthems
Dignitaries have come and gone greeting both sides. Can't stress what a big event this is for Cape Town with it being nine years since the last SA-NZ Test in the city.
'God Defend New Zealand' up first.
Here come the All Blacks
Kieran Read leads his men out in Cape Town. Huge reception as expected for the world champions.
Newlands looks a picture. Not long to go now until kick-off.
Two skippers, Etzebeth and Read, settling the pre-game coin toss with no funny business in sight. Expect Etzebeth to unload some of that frustration from the Albany defeat today.
All Blacks fans in Cape Town
Insight from Matt Todd and some of the other All Blacks on their 'home away from home'.
And also some thoughts from Kieran Read on what to expect from a wounded Springboks outfit.
Long-awaited return to Newlands
It has been nine long years since the All Blacks last pitched up in Cape Town for a Test match, where New Zealand are well supported by the local population. Some insight into why here.
Good afternoon everybody - Rugby Championship coverage for you this afternoon on the final day of the tournament, which starts with the rematch between South Africa and New Zealand at Newlands.
Sorry for bringing this up Springbok fans, but the reading of recent history between these two giants of the sport is not exactly pleasant if you're wearing green and gold - and that was before the 57-0 thrashing in Albany.
The All Blacks have won 14 out of the last 16 - gulp - and are back to full strength having rested a number of frontline operators for their trip to Buenos Aires to face Argentina.
Teams below: Lood de Jager makes a first start since the defeat to Wales last November. Pieter-Steph du Toit moves from lock to blindside flanker to give the Springboks more lineout options – both on attack and defence – on Saturday against the All Blacks in Cape Town.
In another change to the loose trio, Francois Louw will run out at No 8 in place of the injured Uzair Cassiem, while there is also a first Test start for Steven Kitshoff, who comes into the side as replacement for stalwart prop Tendai Mtawarira.
Kitshoff has played a record 18 matches off the bench in his position behind Mtawarira, the most-capped Springbok prop of all time with 95 caps to his name, who is unavailable for the match because of family reasons.
With Kitshoff earning his first start in the Springbok jersey, Wilco Louw has been drafted onto the bench. The former Junior Springbok and SA ‘A’ prop is the only uncapped player in the match 23.
As for the All Blacks, Sam Whitelock returns to the second row alongside Scott Barrett, Liam Squire is at blindside flanker and Sam Cane is at openside, with Matt Todd moving to the bench.
In the backs, Ryan Crotty has been named at centre, while Nehe Milner-Skudder is on the right wing. Tawera Kerr-Barlow has been named at reserve halfback while Lima Sopoaga provides additional back cover alongside David Havili.
South Africa: Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leyds, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Eben Etzebeth (c), Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Wilco Louw, Franco Mostert, Jean-Luc du Preez, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende
New Zealand: Damian McKenzie, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kane Hames, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (c)
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, David Havili