All Blacks crush Springboks
Gavin Rich
September 17, 2016

It has long been argued that one of the key differences between the All Blacks and Springboks is the skill levels of the Kiwi forwards and it was amply underlined by the outstanding Dane Coles as the world champions clinched the Castle Lager Rugby Championship with a 41-13 win in Christchurch.

Hooker Coles joined scrumhalf Aaron Smith in being replaced early last week against Argentina and apparently All Black coach Steve Hansen had some harsh words for them. It worked, for both players were outstanding in a match where the Boks showed some signs of improvement initially and succeeded in slowing down the All Black game but were ultimately shown to be just not good enough. Coles was instrumental in providing the final passes for three tries before he was replaced this time to be protected, in the 64th minute.

The New Zealanders scored six tries to one, with the Boks initially being praised for defensive improvement (the halftime score was 15-10) before falling apart in the second half and ending up being woeful overall. The All Blacks comfortably clinched their bonus point to ensure themselves of the Championship trophy even before they leave their shores for the two-match tour of Argentina and South Africa.

The All Blacks probably weren’t as good as they have been during this Championship season. Perhaps it was because they weren’t able to assert their tempo early because initially the Boks succeeded in closing down defensive space and showed patience when they did have the ball, but the Kiwis made an uncharacteristic number of handling errors.

It says something for the class of a team when they are a little short of their best and are still able to win by 28 points. At the same time it needs to be added that while the All Blacks were always the superior team, even in a first half when they left some points on the table with some uncharacteristically poor finishing (and good scramble defence from the Boks), the visitors did help the Kiwi cause by presenting them with some real gifts.

The first came straight after the Boks had taken the lead for the first and only time in the match in the 20th minute with a superb team try that was created out of some great patience in the systematic build-up that eventually saw Bryan Habana run a superb line off Warren Whiteley to round off his 66th international five pointer.

Beauden Barrett had kicked an early penalty so that converted try made it 7-3 to South Africa, but it was short-lived as Elton Jantjies made an unforgivable error by dropping the kick-off near his own line. That field position was capitalised on by the All Blacks, with Coles popping up in the attacking sweep to the right to put in a superb try-scoring pass to wing Israel Dagg.

While the All Blacks were good with their exiting, the Boks played too much rugby in their own half early on, and where the Kiwis had the advantage at the break, it was in the territory battle, with the hosts enjoying a 58 per cent to 42 per cent spread. The second All Black try was the direct result of Francois Hougaard getting caught trying to run the ball near his own line and it leading to a knock-on further infield.

The resulting scrum saw the All Blacks set up the attack through Barrett, who transferred inside and the All Blacks were helped by a sublime bit of Coles skill as the hooker put in Julian Savea. The Boks did get three points back with a penalty, but it was only a good scramble tackle from Juan de Jongh and a superb turn-over from Pieter-Steph du Toit that prevented the All Blacks from scoring a try that was on for all money after a scything Jerome Kaino break through the middle.

Once again both Bok halfbacks blew hot and cold and failed to stamp their authority, in particular Jantjies, who added a direct restart into touch to his earlier dropped ball blemish at the start of the second half. Faf de Klerk joined him not long after by appearing to panic a bit in clearing a ball directly into touch. Those sort of blemishes aren’t helping the Boks.

Neither were they helped by Malcolm Marx throwing in skew with his second throw at a lineout after coming on for skipper Adriaan Strauss, who left the field in the 44th minute looking in some discomfort. There is no denying Marx’s huge potential, and he provides a rumbustious presence and produced some great touches in general play, but he missed some later throws too and, like his franchise teammate De Klerk, might on this evidence need to work on some of the core skills for his position.

Watching the All Blacks play often is like watching the replay of an old movie and the score that put them more than a converted try ahead as they lifted the tempo came right on cue near the 50th minute mark. Suddenly the previously tenacious Boks started to fall off tackles and after a great Aaron Smith hold up from a recycle it was his namesake Ben that went over near the posts.

The fullback then executed a break that set up the try for Ardie Savea and then came a sublime long pass from Coles that sent in Sam Whitelock in the corner as the All Blacks put considerable daylight between themselves and their opponents on the scoreboard.

The final try was scored by reserve scrumhalf TJ Perenara off an attacking scrum and it was the result of what looked like a system error as the Bok scrumhalf inexplicably stood off his opponent and gave him the space he needed. There were too many of those sort of errors on the night, and while the Boks started off by getting their tactical application spot on, it was a very different story in the second half.


New Zealand: Tries: Israel Dagg (23),Julian Savea (29),Ben Smith (52),Ardie Savea (59),Samuel Whitelock (66),TJ Perenara (72), Conversions: Beauden Barrett (30, 53, 59, 73)Penalty Goal: Beauden Barrett (10)

South Africa: Try: Bryan Habana (20),Conversion: Elton Jantjies (21),Penalty Goals:Elton Jantjies (38, 57)

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