The All Blacks stormed to a 57-15 win on Saturday to hand the Springboks their biggest defeat ever at home, reports JON CARDINELLI at Kings Park.
Steve Hansen’s All Blacks march on. They’ve won the 2015 World Cup. They’ve clinched the 2016 Rugby Championship title. And now, after thrashing the Boks at Kings Park, they are only one result away from a record 18th consecutive victory.
As far as Allister Coetzee’s Boks are concerned, they have made history again for all the wrong reasons. The 42-point defeat at Kings Park on Saturday marked South Africa’s worst-ever loss on home soil.
The Boks conceded nine tries in all. While the bulk of those came in the second stanza, there’s no getting around the fact that this was officially the Boks' worst-ever performance in South Africa.
On Saturday, Hansen’s team became the fourth tier-one Test side in history to win 17 consecutive matches. While there were aspects of the All Blacks’ performance that left a lot to be desired (such as their handling and wayward goal-kicking in the first half), their drive to play the game deep in opposition territory and chip away at the Bok defence was absolute, and ultimately paid major dividends.
For the second time in two weeks, the Boks relied on the boot of Morné Steyn to keep them in the contest in the first half. The swirling wind inside the Kings Park coliseum made goal-kicking extremely difficult, and All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett missed four attempts. Steyn, however, used all of his experience and composure to complete five clutch kicks and keep his side in the game.
Earlier in the week, Hansen had bemoaned the All Blacks’ travel schedule that saw them travelling from New Zealand to Argentina and then from Argentina to South Africa in the space of two weeks. While the All Blacks attempted to play down Aaron Smith’s suspension, the visitors were always going to miss a decision-maker and leader of his class.
In the first 20 minutes, the All Blacks battled to gel. The Bok forwards hammered into the visitors at the collisions and breakdowns. They succeeded in forcing TJ Perenara and Barrett to make handling errors.
The All Blacks, however, still managed to win the territorial battle during this period and indeed for the entire first half. When their backs got the ball on the front foot, they made inroads into the Bok defence. The Boks backs will be having nightmares about Anton Lienert-Brown for some time yet following the All Blacks No 13’s blockbuster performance at Kings Park.
Eventually, the pressure told. The All Blacks persisted with the tactic of attacking the Boks down the right-hand flank, and when they managed to hold their passes, Israel Dagg was in for the All Blacks’ first try.
Perenara was awarded a somewhat controversial try in the 33rd minute. The scrumhalf looked to have knocked the ball on before regathering and placing it over the line. The officials, however, decided that the try would stand.
This incident did not influence the outcome of the game. The All Blacks butchered a try-scoring opportunity on the stroke of half-time, and went to the break with a narrow 12-9 lead. However, there was nothing unconvincing about an All Blacks’ second-half performance that yielded seven tries and 45 points.
The Boks grew progressively worse as the second half progressed. By contrast, the All Blacks’ superior confidence and conditioning came to the fore, especially in the final quarter of the game.
After 60 minutes, the Boks were still in the contest. They trailed the All Blacks by seven points at that stage.
That’s when the All Blacks blasted off. Watching those last 20 minutes was like watching a highlights package while pressing down the fast-forward button.
The visitors scored five tries and as many as 35 points in that 20-minute period. Their energy and intent to finish strongly, even after the game was already won, was something to behold.
The Boks were an embarrassment in those final minutes. They slipped tackles with frightening regularity, and the attitude to prevent a big loss was sorely lacking.
The All Blacks have finished their Rugby Championship campaign with six consecutive bonus-point wins. The victory at Kings Park also marked their biggest win against South Africa.
Springboks – Penalties: Morné Steyn (5).
All Blacks – Tries: Israel Dagg (2), TJ Perenara (2), Beauden Barrett (2), Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Liam Squire. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3), Lima Sopoaga (3).
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie le Roux.
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images