All Blacks put down marker against Boks
MATCH REPORT: Defending champions New Zealand burnished their credentials as favourites for the World Cup with a hard-fought 23-13 win against top contenders South Africa in a blockbuster match in Yokohama on Saturday.
Five minutes and 17 points conceded. You don’t beat the All Blacks of you do that, and that is what the Springboks did in ending up losing by 10 points. The Springboks made mistakes and the All Blacks, the champions that they are, capitalised.
The Springboks were the ones expected to do the kicking, but the All Blacks did it better. In fact three of their kicks produced 14 points, a rich harvest.
Twice they kicked and the Springboks knocked on and. with the help of a delicious kick-pass, they scored two long-range, match-winning tries.
The Springboks started well and for 20 minutes led. It was a little 3-0 lead, it’s true, but for most of those 20 minutes they were on top.
Faf de Klerk kicked a box kick, George Bridges was caught and Steven Kitshoff won a penalty when he was first to the ball. Handré Pollard goaled and after little more than a minute the Springboks led 3-0. Their next score was 47 minutes later.
They were looking sharper and more purposeful than the All Blacks, but when Pollard hit the upright with a second penalty attempt, it seemed to knock wind out of Springbok sails.
Instead the All Blacks found a purple patch.
It started with a horrible pass by De Klerk. Richie Mo’unga was up quickly to foot head down the empty midfield. The ball bounced and Mo’unga got it, but, with a brilliant piece of covering, left wing Makazole Mapimpi tackled Mo’unga. Mapimpi was on his feet to get the ball but penalised in front of the posts for not allowing Mo’unga a chance to release the ball. The referee consulted his helpers about a possible yellow card before settling for the penalty. Mo’unga goaled and it was 3-all after 22 minutes.
Aaron Smith kicked a high, chaseable ball. It was the first of three New Zealand kicks that produced 14 points, for Duane Vermeulen knocked the ball on well into New Zealand hands and Mo’unga kicked the most delicate kick across to Sevu Reece on the right wing. He got away from Mapimpi, played inside to Smith who gave to powerful Ardie Savea as the All Blacks attacked down the right. Stopped they went left. Beauden Barrett ran a half-gap and gave to left wing George Bridges who scored. 10-3 after 24 minutes.
Smith lobbed another kick, Pollard knocked on and again from a long way out, New Zealand scored as Anton Leinert-Brown broke past three Springboks and gave to Scott Barrett on his right and the lock pounded some 30 metres to score under the posts. 17-3 after 27 minutes.
New Zealand scored just two penalty goals in the next 53 minutes. They had a golden chance to score again before half-time when Willie le Roux knocked a kick on and the All Blacks attacked and they would surely have scored had Beauden Barrett not lost the ball.
They also had a penalty kick just before half-time which Mo’unga missed. In the match the Springboks conceded nine penalties to four, making life harder for themselves.
The most creative and exciting of the Springboks was right wing Cheslin Kolbe and he set the Springboks on an attack that led to their try. He caught a high kick and brilliantly eluded tacklers to go racing down the right. The Springboks went through phases till Eben Etzebeth was brought to ground, but Pieter-Steph du Toit was on hand to pick up and dart straight ahead for a try at the posts. 17-10 after 48 minutes.
The Springboks had an excellent chance to score soon afterwards as Vermeulen and De Klerk got close but a poor pass from Le Roux to Kolbe nullified the opportunity. Still Malcolm Marx and Lukhanyo Am were close till the All Blacks won a turnover and turned defence into attack which could have led to a try but for the brave skill of Damian de Allende.
Pollard put the Springboks in range with a dropped goal. 17-13 after 58 minutes but a penalty by Mo’unga from a scrum infringement and another by Beauden Barrett for offside gave the All Blacks an important win.
That win suggests that they will top Pool B but it remains possible that the two teams will meet again in the final. No team that has lost in pool stages has won the final but as the South African coach, Rassie Erasmus, said, history of there to be made.
Man of the Match: The contestants are probably the Barrett brothers and Cheslin Kolbe. It is a close call but our choice is Scott Barrett, a lock who does all that a lock should do and much that a loose forward can do.
Moment of the Match: Cheslin’ Kolbe’s run down the right and Richie Mo’unga’s determined tackle that saved a certain try.
For South Africa:
Try: Du Toit
Drop Goal: Pollard
For New Zealand:
Tries: Bridge, S Barrett
Cons: Mo’unga 2,
Pens: Mo’unga 2 , B Barrett
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 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 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Ardie Savea, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Thomas Perenara, 22 Sonny Bill Williams, 23 Ben Smith.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)