Pat Lambie kicked a 79th-minute penalty to give the Springboks a 27-25 win against the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Celebrate, South Africa. The Boks have humbled the world champions for the first time since 2011 and ended a five-match losing streak against them.
The Boks led 24-13 early in the second half following their most complete and balanced period of play under Heyneke Meyer, but faded badly as the All Blacks stepped up a gear.
Two tries put the visitors ahead 25-24 and when Lambie missed a drop-goal attempt, it looked as though there would be more Bok heartbreak.
But the replacement flyhalf showed nerves of steel with a minute to go when he slotted a 55m penalty that raised the roof.
The All Blacks regained possession from the restart but Schalk Burger, who again made a big impact off the bench, won the Boks a penalty at the breakdown after the hooter.
The Rugby Championship title may already have been decided, but there is no such thing as a dead rubber involving these arch-rivals. The All Blacks were looking to extend their unbeaten run to 23 matches, while the Boks desperately wanted to beat the No 1-ranked side before next year's World Cup.
Several Springboks excelled, but none more so than Duane Vermeulen, who was passed fit just before the game, and Pollard. The former was named Man of the Match, and while the latter missed his first penalty goal attempt, he scored two first-half tries, and kicked three conversions and a penalty. The 20-year-old has shown that he is the man to wear the Bok No 10 jersey at the World Cup.
The Springboks dominated possession in the first half, with their ball-in hand approach resulting in three excellent tries.
The first, in the 10th minute, came when the Boks collected an All Blacks grubber and then ran out of their 22. Jean de Villiers's clever kick bounced up for Cornal Hendricks, who found Jan Serfontein and he popped in the tackle to Francois Hougaard. The scrumhalf had run the perfect support line and had too much gas for Richie McCaw, diving over under the posts.
The Boks were leading 7-6 after 25 minutes when they went wide from a lineout. Referee Wayne Barnes missed De Villiers's forward pass, with Bryan Habana bouncing off Israel Dagg before eventually being tackled. Soon after, Pollard spotted a gap, went round loosehead prop Joe Moody and scored under the posts.
The All Blacks hit back with a try against the run of play, which began with a retreating scrum. Aaron Smith went blind to Julian Savea, who regathered his chip kick down the left touchline before being hauled in. The visitors then went wide to Barrett, who put Malakai Fekitoa into a gap.
But the Boks regained their eight-point lead just before the break, after collecting another All Blacks grubber. Bismarck du Plessis popped the ball to Hougaard, who kicked upfield. Hendricks chased hard and hacked the ball ahead, with the TMO ruling that Fekitoa had carried the ball over the tryline, despite replays showing the ball had come off Hendricks' leg last. The ball went to Pollard from the 5m scrum, who again took the ball flat. He was tackled by Richie McCaw but reached out and placed the ball on the whitewash. The 20-year-old's conversion made it 21-13 at the break.
The Boks came close to scoring again early in the first half, when a Pollard up-and-under (South Africa's first of the game) was followed by a hack ahead by Eben Etzebeth. De Villiers thought he had won the race to the ball but replays showed Conrad Smith had just got there first. Pollard, though, kicked a penalty soon after to give the Boks some reward.
The All Blacks thought they had scored in the 58th minute, but replays showed Marcell Coetzee had carried the ball back over the line before Sam Whitelock got to it. The Boks then smashed the All Blacks scrum, and Kieran Read knocked on. The reaction from the Bok bench said it all.
But the All Blacks continued to pile on the pressure, with Aaron Smith taking a quick tap, only for Fekitoa to knock on 5m out.
But the try did come with 15 minutes to go, when Conrad Smith fended off Serfontein and put Ben Smith over in the right-hand corner. Barrett nailed the touchline conversion to make it 24-20.
The All Blacks then took a one-point lead, after Sam Whitelock stole a Bok throw intended for Victor Matffield. Six phases later, replacement Dane Coles went over in the left-hand corner.
Lambie, who had come on for Pollard in the 63rd minute, missed with a drop-goal attempt, but his clever flick pass to another substitute, Cobus Reinach, and his break led to a Bok penalty. Referee Wayne Barnes had awarded an All Blacks scrum, but when the 61,000 capacity crowd reacted to replays of Liam Messam shoulder charging Burger, he went to the TMO. Messam was penalised and lucky not to get a yellow card.
Lambie then stepped up and cooly snatched a famous victory.
Springboks – Tries: Francois Hougaard, Handré Pollard (2). Conversions: Pollard (3). Penalties: Pollard, Lambie.
All Blacks – Tries: Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith, Dane Coles. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images