Brave Boks shock All Blacks
MATCH REPORT: The Springboks produced a heroic performance to floor World Cup Champions the All Blacks 36-34 at the Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
The Springboks are back. The rivalry is back. In terms of recent history it is a shock to the rugby word – the No.1 All Blacks beaten by the No.7 Springboks and that in New Zealand, in Westpac Stadium where the Springbok had never won before.
There will be different tell-tale signs. If you were a Springbok supporter your eyes would have been blurred with happy tears at the end, as were Pieter-Steph du Toit’s. If you were an All Black supporter, your eyes would have been staring widely in disbelief. If you were an All Black supporter, you would probably shrug your shoulders and say: “Anyway, it’s good for rugby.” If you were a Springbok supporter you probably, like Siya Kolisi, have no words to express your feelings – a mixture of joy and relief, disbelief and guilt for being despondent, a deserter in a sense.
The heroism of the Springboks deserves a place high up in Springbok legends, a story to be told over and over, as surely it will be. Look at the stats of the match, and wonder how the Springboks won – less than 30% of possession, less of territory, a penalty count in the second half of 8-0 and a line-out count of 11-1. But the biggest and most telling figure was the tackle count. The Springboks made 226 to the 46 of the All Blacks. Every single Springbok tackled.
Who can ever forget the time after the hooter signalled that time was up. The All Blacks had their fourth five-metre scrum of the match. They bashed and Kieran Read was right at the line. They went thorough 17 attacking phases before a combination of a glancing contact with Aphiwe Dyantyi and a tackle by Handré Pollard caused Damian McKenzie to lose the ball forward. The ball was passed to Willie Le Roux and the fullback kicked out for an outburst of incredulous joy.
It was a great moment in South African rugby, which Read graciously acknowledged.
Before the match, Rassie Erasmus, the Springbok coach, had asked for a better start, tackling and taking opportunities. Two out of three was enough for victory, for the start was horrendous.
After the anthems and the kamate haka, Pollard kicked off and the ball rolled over the All Black dead-ball line for an All Black scrum at the middle of the half-way. New Zealand attacked but knocked on and Pollard kicked out, a poor clearance. After the line-out, Beauden Barrett gave a quick, short pass to brother Jordie who strode through for a try. Beauden missed the conversion. 5-0 after 5 minutes.
Kicking conversions was in the end the difference between the two teams. Barrett kicked two out of six, Pollard, who had been kicking so poorly in matches just before this, kicked four out of five. In the end the difference between the two teams was about 10 centimetres – the width of an upright, for twice Barrett hit the upright and the ball rebounded. Kick those two and the All Blacks won by two points; kick one and the All Blacks drew; kick none and the Springboks won.
The All Blacks won four turnovers before the next All Black score. From a line-out on the left, while Lusanda Am was receiving medical attention, they went wide right where Ben Smith had an overlap in the absence of Am. Challenged he passed inside to Aaron Smith who scored. This time Barrett converted. 12-0 after 17 minutes.
The Springboks seemed to be staring humiliation in the face.
But then they scored two tries in five minutes to take the lead which they kept for over 55 minutes to the final whistle. The All Blacks did not get the lead back in this match.
From a line-out won by Eben Etzebeth, the Springboks went left through phases. Steven Kitshoff pass ed to Willie le Roux who passed to Aphiwe Dyantyi who went over and round, confidently stepping inside Beauden Barrett in in-goal for a try under the posts. 12-7 after 20 minutes.
The next Springbok try had loads of All Black help. Dyantyi grabbed a grubbered kick and was darting down the left. He chipped ahead but directly into touch just outside the All Black 22. Jordie Barrett threw a long quick throw infield towards Rieko Ioane. The ball bounced away from the left wing who was slow to react. Fullback Le Roux nabbed the ball and ran 20 metres to score under the posts. 14-12 after 25 minutes.
South Africans, probably still not expecting victory, would have felt better. But there was better still to come.
The Springboks attacked, Steven Kitshoff enhanced the attack with a burst and Beauden Barrett was penalised. Pollard kicked out for a five-metre line-out. The Springboks mauled and Marx got the credit for the try as he broke from the advancing maul. 21-12.
The All Blacks set up an attack of advancing phases and Rieko Ioane scored a try to make it 21-17, but, after the hooter, Scott Barrett was offside and Pollard goaled, making the half-time score 24-17 to the Springboks.
There was a bit of tentative hope which became fullblown early in the second half.
For the Springboks, Am did not return to play, his place taken by Cheslin Kolbe with Jesse Kriel moving in to outside centre.
The All Blacks won a turnover and the Springbok were then penalised. The All Black’s tapped and went left where Anton Lienert-Brown passed to his left. Kolbe came boldly forward and intercepted. Away he raced through empty acres to score. 31-17 after 43 minutes.
Just after this the Springboks lost their other centre when Damian de Allende went off nursing a right shoulder. Elton Jantjies came on to play flyhalf as Pollard moved to inside centre.
Now the All Blacks attacked and the Springboks tackled. In the rest of the half the All Blacks had three five-metre line-outs and four five-metre scrums. They could have improved by penalties alone but instead saw tries as the better means of catching up.
After 10 minutes, they got a try as Rieko Ioane powered past Kolbe off a bouncing offload by Beauden Barrett to score in the left corner. This time Beauden Barrett converted, his most difficult conversion of them all. 31-24.
But the Springboks came back. Frans Malherbe burst and Le Roux grubbered. They went though phases and Dyantyi got a short pass from Warren Whitely and danced inside to score. 36-24 after 57 minutes, South Africa’s highest score ever in New Zealand.
A penalty gave the All Blacks a five-metre line-out and now it was their turn to maul over for Codie Taylor’s try. The conversion attempt hit the upright and stayed out. 36-29.
Jack Goodhue broke and gave to TJ Perenara but Whitely saved a certain try with a great tackle.
The All Blacks were attacking the line when, on 66 minutes, Willie le Roux was penalised and yellowcarded for a “cynical” offside. For a vital 10 minutes the Springboks would play with 14 men.
They tackled. They used a quick throw-in to clear. They tackled McKenzie out five metres from the line, but when De Klerk was penalised, the All Blacks mauled over from a five-metre line-out. Ardie Savea scored. 36-34 and the conversion his that 10 centimetres of upright and stayed out.
There were still five minutes to play – in fact 7 minutes and 34 seconds till McKenzie knocked on and Le Roux kicked the ball to glory.
Man of the Match: Fairness would suggest that it should be all 22 Springboks who played, tackled, took their chances and tackled again. It was an enormous turnaround from defeat last Saturday at the hands of the weakened Wallabies, and the players who were most blamed for that defeat were stars in this victory, Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux. Those two and Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff and Handré Pollard and Aphiwe Dyantyi and … Those are the candidates. We could pick Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Moment of the Match: All five tries are candidates as the Springboks took their chances but the one that possibly sparked real hope was Aphiwe Dyantyi’s first try.
Villain of the Match: Nobody at all – not one of all the honourable men who played this exciting Test at Westpac Stadium on 15 September 2018.
A New Zealander would have every reason to be proud of his time – the way they have won matches and the way they accepted this (rare) defeat.
For New Zealand:
Tries: J Barrett, A Smith, Ioane 2, Taylor 2
Cons: B Barrett 2
For South Africa:
Tries: Dyantyi 2, Le Roux, Marx, Kolbe
Cons: Pollard 4
Yellow card: Willie Le Roux (South Africa, 66 – Deliberate offside)
* PODCAST: Listen to what the New Zealanders think of the Springboks …
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Thomas Perenara, 22 Jack Goodhue, 23 Damian McKenzie.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 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 Wilco Louw, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gaüzère (France), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)