All Blacks extend Boks' Loftus misery
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: What an agonisingly wonderful match! With 15 seconds to go New Zealand scored the try that brought them level with South Africa at 30-all. Then, in the last act of the match, Richie Mo’unga kicked the conversion to win the match for the All Blacks who are never beaten till the final whistle sounds.
With 10 minutes to play, the Springboks led 30-18. In those 10 minutes the All Blacks scored from two penalty-fuelled line-outs to win a match that the Springboks seemed to have in the bag.
There is one defeat far worse than a thumping; it is losing like this in the last minute and there is no victory more enjoyable than winning like this when all seemed lost
This game may well have been one of great interest in the world this year. It took over South Africa where suburbs all over the country grew quiet as people stayed glued to their television sets. And expectation was soaring as the score built higher and higher and then in a moment it all came crashing down.
Cry the beloved country, as excited joy tumbled into a black hole of despond. As the chiché has it, this was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – two penalties, two attacking line-outs, two tries – game lost.
But nothing should detract from the efforts of the 46 players who played in this the most gripping of matches. It was a match to remember.
There is every reason for these players to be heroes of the game.
The match was a long time in getting going, but, when it did, went helterskelter as the Springboks dominated the match and the scoring – till those last few minutes.
The game was long in starting because Willie le Roux had a solo run to celebrate his 50th Test, the All Blacks came on to a rumble in the crowd, the impis came on with muscular challenge, the Springboks came on to a roar, both teams and the match officials shook hands with four dignitaries, including South Africa’s minister of sport, Tokozile Xasa, then the two anthems were sung and then the haka, this time Kapa o Pango, which the All Blacks reserve for really big matches.
It was the opposite of the Wellington match where the All Blacks had a huge share of territory and possession. This time the Springboks had more than 70% of both for most of the match. They led 23-6 before the All Blacks scored a try. In Wellington the Springboks tackled and tackled. This time it was New Zealand’s turn. They made 68 tackles in the first half to South Africa’s 15.
Handré Pollard kicked off. The Springboks were in All Black territory and when Kieran Read was penalised for being offside, Pollard kicked a penalty goal from a few centimetres inside the New Zealand half and 15 or so metres from touch – a long kick. 3-0 after 4 minutes,
The scrums were pretty even. The first one went to New Zealand, but Faf de Klerk snagged Aaron Smith. The All Blacks were struggling to get going.
Scott Barrett was penalised near his 22 and near touch. Pollard kicked out and the Springboks were bashing at the All Blacks’ line with Malcolm Marx, De Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit close and Damian de Allende was held up for a five-metre scrum. Again the Springboks attacked and Sonny Bill Williams was penalised for being offside. 6-0 after 13 minutes.
Three penalties in a row set the All Blacks on attack. Beauden Barrett goaled a penalty to make it 6-3 after 25 minutes and when Francois Louw was penalised four minutes before half-time, he made it 6-0.
The half had flown by trylessly.
The first try came after just four minutes into the second half which produced seven tries.
The Springboks were going through phases when De Klerk passed on the blindside to lock Eben Etzebeth who gave to prop Steven Kitshoff who gave to outside centre Jesse Kriel. Kriel broke through Ryan Crotty and Waisake Naholo and then got past Aaron Smith to score the first try of the match. Pollard’s impeccable boot made it 13-6 after 44 minutes.
Pollard’s next penalty was just inside his own half. He goaled it. 16-6 after 47 minutes.
The Springboks continued to build on their lead. Richie Mo’unga was on at flyhalf while Beauden Barrett moved to centre. Mo’unga kicked, the Springboks counterattacked, Siya Kolisi broke and sent De Allende on an easy run for the try. 23-6 after 51 minutes.
Faf de Klerk kicked a poor box kick – is there a good one? – and Ben Smith started running. Codie Taylor came away with the ball and passed to unmarked Aaron Smith on his right and the scrumhalf had an untroubled sprint to the line. 23-13 after 54 minutes.
On the left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi darted ahead and grubbered. He and Beauden Barrett raced to the ball. Barrett got it but took it over his line for a five-metre scrum.
De Klerk got thing going, Louw was close and then the Springboks went wide right where Cheslin Kolbe beat the flying Beauden Barrett but was brought to ground by Williams and Rieko Ioane. He managed to stretch out and get the ball on the line, which the TMO confirmed after examining “the legitimacy of the grounding”. The try was right in the right corner and from that angle Pollard bisected the uprights with an excellent kick. 30-18 with 20 minutes to play.
During this 20 minutes, as the Springboks brought all their players off the bench, the All Blacks dominated, as they had done in Wellington but with a difference – this time they scored.
A penalty gave New Zealand a line-out. The Springboks countered the maul and the All Blacks went wide left. A long Beauden Barrett pass found Rieko Ioane who scored in the right corner. When Mo’unga missed the conversion, the crowd cheered, such was the tension in the packed ground.
A penalty against Pieter-Steph du Toit for lifting a player off his feet gave the All Blacks a line-out. They mauled and then bashed getting right up to the line when Rieko Ioane dabbed the ball over. 30-25 with five minutes to play. Tension was at breaking point as suddenly certain victory became possible defeat.
The Springboks had the ball and Vincent Koch charged ahead. He was tackled and the Springboks were penalised – another line-out, another maul, another series of bashes and then a try close in by Ardie Savea. 30-30, and Mo’unga kicked the conversion.
The final whistle went. The All Blacks were gleeful, the Springboks bewildered.
Man of the Match: For the All Blacks, there were Ryan Crotty for his tackling , Rieko Ioane and Aaron Smith. For the Springboks there were Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx, and we chose Malcolm Marx.
Moment of the Match: Ardie Savea’s try, the defining moment.
Villain of the Match: Nobody. The only untoward moment happened in the first half, and frizzled fast.
For South Africa:
Tries: Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe
Cons: Pollard 3
Pens: Pollard 3
For New Zealand:
Tries: A Smith, Ioane, S Barrett, Savea
Cons: Mo’unga 3
Pens: B Barrett 2
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
New Zealand: New Zealand : 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Thomas Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)