New Zealand 35 (20) South Africa 20 (3)
Tests in New Zealand are hard to beat at the best of times. It’s impossible to barely touch the ball in the first quarter and give up a 17-0 lead to the home team.
The Springboks were beaten in the first 20 minutes of this match, and for the next hour they had to play rugby. They had their good moments, but the All Blacks made a statement with their ferocity and precision early on. The wait for Oakland’s first Pokemon win since 1937 will be extended by at least another year.
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In many ways, the All Blacks’ performance was out of the Boks’ current guide. They controlled collisions, used brilliantly accurate kicking and executed to perfection, excelled at line battle and destroyed superbly.
They kicked 27 times from the hand to the Boks’ 14. They also scored four tries to three. Don’t let anyone say kicking won’t win test matches, but it must be accurate and calculated. For the most part, the All Blacks have been both.
The Boks had no answers early on, and found themselves in a hole so deep they could barely see any light. They were forced to foul and throw four penalties in a row in this period, which also dented any chance of relieving pressure.
Ahead of the Boks first streak in the 18thy Minute, the All Blacks owned 88% and roughly the same amount of land. It was a one-way movement.
It’s a timely wake-up call after a high-profile win over the Wallabies 43-12 last week, but most of the non-Loftus players looked rusty and looked kind of out of sorts. Especially against the ferocity of the early attack from the All Blacks.
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Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Jasper Wiese, Damian Willemse (who played last week), Franco Mostert and Damian de Allende were all off the pace as they adapted to the highest intensity the sport could offer.
Of the players who didn’t play against Australia last week, only scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, and perhaps Cheslin Kolbe, were among the players who didn’t play against Australia last week, who were up to the pace initially.
De Klerk was a constant, boisterous presence until a leg injury forced him off the field midway through the second half. At that point, the Boks had narrowed the deficit to eight points, the closest they could get to making it a contest.
“The start wasn’t ideal for us…we struggled to get into the game because of poor discipline,” said coach Jacques Nenaber. “We missed four penalties and a good side like New Zealand, and they took advantage of that.”
Black winger Shannon Frisell was both excellent, especially in the first half, breaking tackles almost at will and creating unstoppable momentum for his side.
Wing Will Jordan was another one who turned heads with its shady rides and ability to drift through tiny pockets of space like a mist on a breeze.
He created the opening try after just four minutes for scrumhalf Aaron Smith and was always dangerous every time he touched the ball into space. He scored himself to kill the Boks’ comeback at 70y minutes when he ran into a kick/pass under Bodine Barrett’s advantage.
But it was Richie Muunga at Fly Half who was pulling the strings, and she was the one who kicked, passed and ran with intelligence and precision. The ice provided a wonderful effort from the New Zealand pack.
Mo’unga was rewarded with a late try when he ran a perfect line from the back of the scrum near the Boks’ line, also kicking six-of-seven from the tee. He added as many as 20 points for the flyhalf and ended any debate over the identity of the All Blacks first-choice centerpiece.
The All Blacks have noted that they will be a powerhouse in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, while the Boks have done enough in the middle part of the game to show why they are always a factor in the big show.
It was very frustrating that they didn’t come out of the blocks on anything more than a run, while the All Blacks were in high gear within seconds.
At Ellis Park in 2022, the Boks fell 15-0 behind the All Blacks and were unable to recover, nearly being a carbon copy at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
It’s all well and good having a strong seat, but a bomb squad needs to be able to blast off a solid foundation. Most of the bench entered the fray with the Boks 17 points behind.
Frizzell scored the All Blacks’ second try, underlining his phenomenal form when he smashed Colby, De Klerk and Willie Le Roux out of the way on his way to scoring, after picking up a fine pass from hooker Cody Taylor.
At that point, the Visitors were a bit of a mess, but unlike previous incarnations of the Boks, they didn’t break down and get stuck in some way. A 36y De Klerk’s accurate penalty kick gave the Boks their first points of the game, but De Allende kicked the restart and the Boks conceded another penalty. Mo’unga duly slotted it in to re-establish the 17-point margin.
The Boks finished the half on the All Blacks’ streak but failed to convert, but there was a definite shift in momentum and a small flicker of hope.
Colby kept those blinkers alive by trying to save a try on Jordan near the line after the New Zealand winger had slipped through the smallest of the gaps again.
With the Bomb Squad almost fully deployed, hooker Malcolm Marks scored from behind the rolling putt to close the gap. Minutes later, Colby thought he had scored when he and Boden Barrett stepped up to take a kick on the All Blacks’ goal line.
Barrett spilled the ball but TV match official Ben Whitehouse deemed Colby had not stopped it. It was a fringe decision and one that tends to be a challenge for teams in New Zealand.
Jordan and Monga’s attempts killed the contest, but Quagga Smith added the late score to add some respect on a disciplinary day. DM
New Zealand Tries: Aaron Smith, Shannon Frizzell, Will Jordan, Richie Monga. Transfers: Richie Muunga (3). Penalties: Healer (3).
South Africa Attempts: Malcolm Marks, Cheslyn Colby, Quagga Smith. Conversion: vials. Punishment: Fave de Klerk.