A late Jordie Barrett penalty saw New Zealand clinch the Rugby Championship with a tense 19-17 victory over South Africa in the historic 100th Test between the arch-enemies on Saturday.
In an arid issue with a high mistake include in Townsville, the All Blacks drove 13-11 at half-time and the two sides exchanged punishments during that time half until Barrett handled the executioner blow with two minutes remaining.
It gave the unbeaten All Blacks an unassailable lead in the Rugby Championship with one round leftover. “If at any time you will take an appalling success, we’ll take that,” mitigated All Blacks mentor Ian Foster said.
“Obviously it would have been a major arm wrestle. We attempted to tear it open yet proved unable. It wasn’t pretty yet I adored the demeanor toward the end.”
The amazing Springboks pack won an astounding 13 turnovers, just to see the ball kicked away more often than not, and Foster said the All Blacks expected to improve at dealing with that style of play. “It’s one thing to excuse it as exhausting, which a many individuals do, however it’s savage and clinical and they are generally excellent at it,” he said.
“We used up all available time as a rule and that put our range of abilities under tension, so there’s a genuine expectation to learn and adapt for us.”
The standoff had been quite a while really taking shape – a long time since two of the world’s incredible opponents first went head to head and two years since they conflicted at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The title holder Springboks went into the game on the rear of stinging analysis from mentor Jacques Nienaber who requested improvement after consecutive misfortunes to Australia.
He proclaimed himself happy with the reaction as the boot of Handre Pollard had them in sight of triumph, before Barrett moved forward to seal the result. “The approach worked. I thought we had openings, they had openings, it boiled last minute,” said Nienaber.
“A call here, a skip of the ball there and in some cases it goes for yourself and some of the time it conflicts with you.”
Of the 100 Tests between New Zealand and South Africa, the All Blacks have now won 60, South Africa 36 and four have been drawn.
In a seesaw first half it was a try apiece within the opening five minutes, before the Springboks pulled ahead with two penalties, only for the All Blacks to land two of their own late in the half to regain the lead.
But as much as the All Blacks created opportunities, and punched holes through the Springboks defensive line, they suffered through poor finishing and ill-discipline.
Before a near-capacity crowd of 25,000 at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, a Codie Taylor break paved the way for Will Jordan to score the opening try, with Jordie Barrett landing the conversion to have the All Blacks ahead 7 -0.
Almost immediately the Springboks replied when George Bridge misjudged a high kick from Faf de Klerk and Sbu Nkosi snapped up the ball to score.
The normally reliable Pollard missed the conversion but banged over two penalties soon after to put the Springboks ahead 11-7.