South Africa pulled off a shock 36-34 victory over New Zealand in their Rugby Championship clash in Wellington on Saturday.
It was the All Blacks’ first loss in the competition for three years, although they remain head of the table with two rounds still to play.
Aphiwe Dyantyi (2), Willie le Roux, Malcolm Marx and Cheslin Kolbe scored tries for South Africa. Handre Pollard landed four conversions and a penalty.
New Zealand’s tries were scored by Jordie Barrett, Aaron Smith, Rieko Ioane (2), Codie Taylor and Ardie Savea with two conversions by Beauden Barrett.
Here’s our report card from a thrilling contest.
Springboks class: After losing to Argentina and Australia, much pressure fell on Rassie Erasmus and his coaching team heading into this contest in Wellington. After a torrid start, they trailed 12-0 with 15 minutes gone, but instead of caving under the intense pressure, the Boks tightened up in defence and attack and went on to score 21 unanswered points.
They ran hard at the defensive line at every opportunity in a bid to force the All Blacks into mistakes. To survive a sin bin, some poor refereeing decisions and a strong wave of attack for the final 20 minutes, makes this a famous victory.
Determination in defence: The Springboks’ rush defence cut down the All Blacks’ space and gave them hardly any momentum, in fact, the Boks made 85 per cent of their tackles, a mammoth 193 out of 226, in contrast to the All Blacks’ 36 out of 46.
It may look a bit one-sided in terms of the All Blacks time in possession, but the way the Boks stayed so calm in the dying minutes was outstanding. Between the trojan work of Franco Mostert (23 tackles), Siya Kolisi (15), Pieter-Steph du Toit (28) and Warren Whiteley (17), the Boks had four warriors who stepped up when it mattered most.
Inaccurate All Blacks: The only way to beat the All Blacks is to force them to make mistakes. For a side renowned for their consistency, the world champions made some easy mistakes with Barrett kicking out on the full in the first half, brother Jordie making a hash of a quick throw, Anton Lienert-Brown throwing an intercept for Kolbe’s try as well as a litany of knock-ons in formidable attacking positions.
Two of these three mistakes led to tries, something Steve Hansen will not want a repeat of for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.
Beauden Barrett’s place kicking: There is no doubt the Hurricanes man is one of the greatest fly-halves of this current generation, but for a two-time World Player of the Year, his place kicking is appalling.
He missed four out of six conversions, including an easy kick to force a draw following Savea’s try. His brother Jordie is a much better kicker and should be given the duties for the next game against Argentina in two weeks.
4mins: Jordie Barrett touches down the opening try after quick hands from a line-out saw the Blacks create space and the full-back run on to a delicate pass from brother Beauden to score.
15mins: The All Blacks double their advantage as Ben Smith bursts down the wing to send scrum-half Aaron Smith in from close range.
19mins: The visitors hit back. Strong carrying from Marx and Eben Etzebeth puts Le Roux in space and the Wasps man sends Dyantyi over in the corner.
24mins: Jordie Barrett opts for a quick throw in and the ball takes a bad bounce. Le Roux collects possession and runs in to put the Boks ahead.
32mins: The Boks score again as Marx touches down after a powerful driving maul.
37mins: Strong defence from the Boks pins the All Blacks back, but they find a gap and Ioane touches down.
40mins: Pollard kicks a penalty to stretch the lead to seven at the break (24-17).
43mins: Kolbe intercepts from Lienert-Brown and slaloms in for his first international try.
52mins: Ioane brushes aside Kolbe’s poor tackle and powers over for his 18th try in 18 matches.
58mins: Elton Jantjies sends a cleverly weighed pass out wide to Whiteley who sends Dyanti in for his second.
61mins: Codie Taylor burrows over for the All Blacks from a driving maul to make it 29-36, Barrett strikes the upright with his conversion.
74mins: All Blacks score as Savea peels off a driving maul to cross the line. Barrett hits the post again with the conversion – an easy chance to draw the game is thrown away.
TACTICAL TURNING POINTS
A belter of a Test. Erasmus’ side looked dangerous from 1-15 and their transition from defence into attack was outstanding.
It was the sheer ferocity of their speed in defence to prevent the All Blacks from gathering hard yards late in the contest that made the difference.
Perhaps a Springboks side of old would have buckled under the severe pressure, but this crop of players showed passion and determination to close out the contest – with All Blacks pressing for that winning score that never came.
Springboks – A: Not many faults in this famous display, but Erasmus needs to use this win to help build his side up over the remaining three games in the competition. Pollard at 10 makes everything tick. Magic.
All Blacks – C: The home side had chances to win the game late on, but mistakes at critical moments cost them victory. Barrett’s kicking from the tee needs to improve.
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