Clinical Springboks draw first blood against All Blacks

Clinical Springboks draw first blood against All Blacks

    Credit: PA Pictures

Credit: PA Pictures

South Africa got off to an excellent start in the rugby championship with a 26-10 win over New Zealand in Mbombela on Saturday.

In a fast-paced and entertaining affair, the Springboks were fully valuable in their win, having long been the dominant team and eventually beating the All Blacks by two tries to one.

Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux crossed for the home team’s attempts, while Handre Pollard finished with 16 points thanks to two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal.

For the visitors, Shannon Frizell scored a five-pointer, which was converted by Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett completed a penalty.

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The All Blacks rarely questioned the world champions, but when they did, they were met with an excellent defensive display from the men in green and gold.

New Zealand came into this game as underdogs but to be honest they looked clueless in attack and that defeat will put even more pressure on the under-fire head coach Ian Foster, whose side have now lost five of their last six Tests.

Despite the visitors’ inadequacies, the Boks’ forwards deserve a lot of credit for this win as they bullied their opponents from the start and it was a special occasion for their hooker Malcolm Marx to be named the official man of the game in his 50th Trial . However, there was a blot on the Boks’ hilt in the 75th minute when Arendse received a red card for knocking out Beauden Barrett in an air crash.

The game got off to an eventful start as the Boks suffered a massive blow 43 seconds into kick-off when Faf de Klerk was knocked out cold after escaping second best while attempting to tackle Caleb Clarke.

He was immediately replaced by Jaden Hendrikse, but despite losing their talismanic scrum half, the home side still had the better half from the early substitution. And in the ninth minute, they opened the gate when Arendse crossed for an opening attempt. This after Beauden Barrett failed to collect a high ball from Pollard in his 22. Lukhanyo Am lunged and managed to offload Arendse, who had a clear run-in on his first test attempt.

Pollard added extras and in the middle of the half he scored a penalty after All Blacks skipper Sam Cane went off his feet on a jerk.

It was all South Africa for the remainder of the period as they continued to have the majority of possession and territory while the All Blacks struggled to build momentum as they managed to get their hands on the ball. On the rare occasions when this was the case, the visitors’ attacks fizzled out due to a series of unintentional errors.

In the 26th minute, Akira Ioane threw in a forward pass near the halfway line – after Beauden Barrett was good with a counterattack from deep in his half – and five minutes later David Havili tapped when he overlapped with his outside inside Boks’ half.

Although the hosts remained firmly in control of the game, the All Blacks gained some respite against the flow of play in the 36th minute when Jordie Barrett opened up his team’s account with a penalty. This after Damian de Allende was blown up for going offside when he touched the ball from an attacking scrum.

That meant the Boks were 10-3 in their favor at half-time, but they still had work to do if they were to seal their first home win over New Zealand since 2014.

The opening changes in the second half were reticent, but the hosts extended their lead in the 51st minute when Pollard’s second penalty after a scrum breach by Tyrel Lomax scored.

Marx continues to shine

The All Blacks showed more intensity after the break, testing the home side’s defense with some strong carries, but they continued to make mistakes and were bullied on the breakdowns – where Marx was prominent.

In the 58th minute, Pollard put more daylight between his side and the opposition when he scored a well-taken drop goal from 35 yards. The next 15 minutes were hectic, but another Pollard penalty in the 71st minute – after Beauden Barrett had been blown up in a jerk – hammered his side’s dominance.

Shortly after, Arendse was sent off after his horror challenge against Barrett and in the 79th minute Frizell crossed for a consolation after Clarke had delivered well with a barnstorming run in the build-up.

Despite that goal, the Boks finished stronger and sealed their victory in stoppage time when a pass from Cane to Frizell went awry and Le Roux rallied before crossing for a try that sealed his side’s convincing victory.

CONTINUE READING: Dave Rennie hails Michael Hooper’s “courage” in speaking out and insists the captain be given “as much support as possible”.

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