Jordie Barrett put in a perfect performance from the kicking tee to see the All Blacks claim a nailbiting 19-17 victory over the Springboks in the 100th Test match between the two teams in Townsville on Saturday.
The victory saw the All Blacks take an unassailable lead on the Rugby Championship table, while South Africa fell to their third straight Test loss, despite a much improved performance from their games against Australia.
As sweet as the win will be for New Zealand, it was an agonizing loss for South Africa, as they were three minutes away from upsetting the odds.
More than anything, it was an opportunity missed for the Springboks. Building their game on the power of their pack, forceful defence and excellent kicking game, they forced the All Blacks into 16 handling errors. However, their attack simply was not efficient enough to punish the New Zealanders and they had to settle for just the one try and four penalties from Handre Pollard.
Matchflow: It was a dream start for the All Blacks as they took just three minutes to capitalise on poor defence from the Springboks to score the opening try. After punching a couple of holes in the defensive line, hooker Codie Taylor burst through and put Will Jordan over the tryline.
However, an error from George Bridge allowed the Springboks to strike right back. What initially looked like a poor kick from Faf de Klerk was essentially turned into a try assist as Bridge failed to gather and Sbu Nkosi pounced to score.
The Springboks were putting huge pressure on the All Blacks through their physicality on defence and at the breakdown, while Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi were causing Bridge and Jordan problems in the air.
A couple of well-taken penalties from Handre Pollard gave the Boks an 11-7 lead. The Boks lost control of the game towards the end of the first half, as consecutive errors allowed New Zealand to regain the lead.
First, Pollard sent a kick-off straight into touch, before Faf de Klerk was penalised for offside. Nkosi was then yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down, allowing Jordie Barrett his second penalty and give New Zealand a 13-11 lead at the break.
During a tense start to the second half, the Springboks managed to see off the Nkosi yellow-card period after defusing two lineouts five metres from their own tryline.
Pollard and Barrett traded penalties, as the All Blacks continued to make a plethora of handling errors, but the Boks conceded seven penalties.
The Boks regained the lead with 13 minutes to play as Pollard converted his fourth penalty. However, substitute back Quinn Tupaea won a turnover penalty and Barrett did excellently to slot it from an acute angle on the 10m line.
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