Elton Jantjies kicked the winner as the Springboks recovered from a three-match slump, fighting back to snatch a heroic win over New Zealand. ZELIM NEL rates the key performers.
10 Elton Jantjies
Eight minutes into the second half, Jantjies shook off the rust to make his first Test appearance in almost 50 days, coming through with a clutch drop goal and two penalties, and feeding Makazole Mapimpi a try-scoring pass, to seal a victory that will go down as one of the greats in the Bok rivalry against the All Blacks.
9 Frans Steyn
Steyn replaced Willie le Roux at the start of the second half and turned back the clock to deliver a performance that would have been right at home in 2009, when he started at fullback in back-to-back wins over the All Blacks.
The Boks went into the break trailing 20-14 and the 34-year-old was decisive in the world champions winning the second half by a margin of 17-9 as he flipped the field with low-trajectory kicks, one of which was a long 50-22 that gave South Africa set-piece territory.
9 Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am
A magical pass from Am released his centre partner for the first of South Africa’s two tries, but it was a spectacular display of handling worth well more than De Allende’s five-pointer. The audacity of it simultaneously contradicted the perception that the Boks lack skills while also sending a clear signal that the world champions were not anxious, despite facing the prospect of losing four in a row.
8 Duane Vermeulen, Steven Kitshoff
Vermeulen got in over the ball to force the penalty that led to Jantjies’ game-winning kick. The abrasive No 8 fronted the All Blacks with unblinking resolve, launching himself into the trenches for 11 tackles and seven carries.
Kitshoff was part of the unconventional substitution of the entire front row at the end of the first half, and the burly loosehead teamed up with Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch to power a resurgent Bok scrum, chipping in with ninja-like reflexes to intercept the ball as the All Blacks opted for the bailout at the front of a lineout.
7 Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi
Mapimpi was again tireless in the kick chase and his heated duel with All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett added an edge to the Bok kicking game, while Nkosi was the overlooked hero in De Allende’s try as he anticipated and caught Am’s spectacular pass, then froze Barrett with a dummy before floating the ball to the inside centre for the score.
7 Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk
Pollard launched bombs in the kicking game and was a factor on attack, making eight carries for 47 metres to beat three defenders, but the Bok pivot missed 40% of his tackle attempts and goal-kicked at 57% efficiency.
De Klerk’s tackling improved dramatically as he grounded five of six runners in his channel, and he kept the defence honest with four carries for 25m.
4 Willie le Roux
The Bok fullback was poor and a string of errors – which included spilling one high ball, heading another after losing sight of it in the air and then missing the tackle on Rieko Ioane that led to a try – had him yanked at half time for Frans Steyn.