All Blacks bounce back to upset Boks at Ellis Park
MATCH REPORT: The All Blacks have silenced some of their critics with a 35-23 win over the Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
It is a morale-boosting win for the All Blacks and it may have saved the job of embattled coach Ian Foster.
Foster has been under fire after five losses in six matches ahead of the Johannesburg showdown, including a 16-point loss to World Cup champions the Springboks last weekend.
But a much-improved All Blacks side turned the tables after a thriller in which South Africa led by one point with six minutes remaining before conceding two converted tries.
New Zealand recovered from a poor start, with fullback Jordie Barrett knocking on within 40 seconds, to control the early stages.
South Africa suffered an early blow with only 10 minutes gone when groggy wing Jesse Kriel was forced to retire and veteran fullback Willie le Roux came on.
Fortunately for fullback Damian Willemse, there was no score as he sat on the touchline due to a yellow card while a sell-out 61,519 crowd roared on the home side.
The first points in an arm wrestle came on 25 minutes when recalled fly-alf Richie Mo’unga slotted a penalty for the visitors.
His successful kick triggered a period of away dominance in which captain and flank Sam Cane and hooker Samson Taukei’aho scored tries, the second of which Mo’unga converted.
FT | The Freedom Cup is coming back to Aotearoa.
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South African concerns
When New Zealand moved the ball wide, wing Will Jordan sent Cane over in the corner for his second try against South Africa.
Taukei’aho then used his strength to power over from close range and this time Mo’unga split the posts with his kick for a 15-point lead five minutes before half-time.
An indication of South Africa’s concerns was a series of first-half substitutions with hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Steven Kitshoff and No.8 Jasper Wiese introduced.
The hosts needed to score quickly, and they did with centre Lukhanyo Am diving over and flyhalf Handre Pollard converting.
Pollard had not missed a kick at goal in his last two Tests – against Wales in Cape Town and New Zealand in Mbombela – and he maintained his record in first-half added time.
Opting to kick for goal from the halfway line, his kick just made it and as the teams trooped off the field a 15-point New Zealand advantage had been cut to 15-10.
The second half became a thriller with South Africa finally edging in front at 23-21 when Pollard kicked a penalty on 68 minutes.
But intense All Blacks pressure led to tries from centre David Havili and lock Scott Barrett and Mo’unga converted both to get the visitors back on the winning trail.
Wing Makazole Mapimpi was the other Springbok try scorer as Pollard accumulated 13 points from two conversions and three penalties.
Man of the match: Lukhanyo Am, who scored his team’s first try, was simply outstanding for the Springboks with his ball skills and speed out wide. He played most of the match on the wing after Jesse Kriel got a knock to the head early in the game. Jasper Wiese also gave the Boks a boost when he replaced Duane Vermeulen in the first half. For the All Blacks, Will Jordan gave the Springboks plenty of problems out wide, while No.8 Ardie Savea was one of his team’s best ball carriers and defenders on the field. However, the award goes to All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane, who produced one of his best performances. He was strong with ball in hand and he managed to find some space in a strong Springbok defence.
For South Africa:
Tries: Am, Mapimpi
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 3
For New Zealand:
Tries: Cane, Taukei’aho, Havili, S Barrett
Cons: Mo’unga 3
Pens: Mo’unga 3
Yellow card: Damian Willemse (South Africa, 4′ – cynical play, not rolling away); Beauden Barrett (New Zealand, 67′ – cynical play, tackling a player without the ball)
South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Albertus Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samson Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)
Additional source: AFP