What we’ve learned

Five lessons from the match between the Springboks and All Blacks at Ellis Park, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.

Pat Lambie has nerves of steel
When the Springboks were awarded a 79th-minute penalty following Liam Messam's shoulder charge on Schalk Burger, Lambie picked up the kicking tee and walked straight to the mark. His 40m drop-goal attempt had gone just wide three minutes earlier, but there was no doubt in his mind that he would be going for goal. The pressure doesn't get bigger than this – a kick to secure the Boks' first win against the All Blacks in three years, in front of a 61,000 capacity crowd – but he held his nerve and sent the ball sailing over the crossbar from 55m out. The 23-year-old's reaction – a double fist pump and 'Come on!' – showed just how much it meant to him.

The crowd can influence a referee
The Springboks would probably not have won at Ellis Park had the crowd not reacted to replays of Messam's shoulder charge on Burger. None of the officials had seen it and it was only when the fans showed their disapproval that referee Wayne Barnes asked the TMO if there was something he should look at. The Boks were also fortunate that the game was in South Africa, and that the SuperSport producer opted to show replay after replay of the incident. Would that have happened if Sky Sport New Zealand had been controlling the images?

Duane Vermeulen is the Springboks' Superman
Having injured rib cartilage against the Wallabies at Newlands, Vermeulen was given as much time as possible to recover for the All Blacks clash at Ellis Park. In fact, there were still doubts as to whether he would play when the Springboks were warming up before the game. However, Vermeulen assured Heyneke Meyer that he was ready to go, and went on to produce a Man of the Match performance, outshining Kieran Read, who many consider to be the best No 8 in the world. Vermeulen played as he always does, with scant regard for his own well-being, making 66m from nine carries, 10 tackles, three turnovers and taking three of the Boks' lineout throws.

Handré Pollard is in pole position to wear the Bok No 10 jersey at the World Cup
Four months after captaining the Junior Springboks to two wins against the Baby Blacks in New Zealand, Pollard spear-headed the Bok attack against the All Blacks at Ellis Park. He constantly tested the All Blacks defence by taking the ball flat, made 109m from 19 carries, and scored two excellent tries. The 20-year-old also kicked accurately out of hand, was successful with four out of five kicks at goal, and made five tackles. So good was his performance that it came as a surprise when he was substituted with 17 minutes to go. Morné Steyn's failure to find touch with a penalty late in the game against the Wallabies in Perth, and the subsequent loss, has proved to be a blessing for the Boks, as it resulted in Pollard's promotion to the starting XV. The No 10 jersey is now his to lose.

Heyneke Meyer's Springboks can beat Steve Hansen's All Blacks
While the Rugby Championship title had been decided, it was crucial from a psychological point of view for the Boks to beat the All Blacks ahead of next year's World Cup. They had looked like doing it at Ellis Park last year, before fading in the second half, and were a metre away from scoring a match-winning try in Wellington last month. This time, though, they finished the job and now know that they have what it takes to beat the world champions.

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt