NEWS ARTICLES
Masterful All Blacks equal record
Gavin Rich
supersport.com
October 08, 2016

Even the most fiercely partisan South African fans should have been able to marvel at the sheer class and skill of an All Black team that equalled the record for successive test victories by beating the Springboks 57-15 in the final Castle Lager Rugby Championship test at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The massive nine-try-to-nil rout brings the New Zealanders level with the mark shared by two other All Black teams and the Bok team that was coached by Nick Mallett and Gary Teichmann in 1997/1998.

The Kiwis, who scored their biggest win over South Africa in this match, have a two-week break now and then have a chance to claim the record as their own when they host the Wallabies in the final Bledisloe Cup test of 2016 in Auckland.

The All Blacks haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994 so the chances of them not getting the record are almost zero, but the way they are playing at the moment you’d back them to win a game played on the moon against the rest of the universe with no limitations on the number of players that team could include.

The All Blacks only led 12-9 at halftime but if you didn’t see the game don’t be fooled into thinking that it was close.

The real story of the first half was the Kiwis being so much quicker and more precise, an off-day from Beauden Barrett with his place-kicking boot and some desperate scrambling from a South African team that pretty much was a one man, or should that be one boot show.

Kirean Read’s team had already scored two tries to nil and came close to getting a third on the point of halftime, but a lineout try completed by Read was disallowed.

To be fair, the All Blacks may have been lucky to get their second try, for the TMO appeared to miss a clear knock on from try scorer TJ Perenara before he dotted down.

However, such was the pace that the All Blacks were playing the game, and the skill that they were exhibiting, not to mention too their dominance of the gainline battle, that it was always going to be a matter of time before the dam wall would break.

Take a look at these statistics: 399 metres run in the first half by the world champions against just 44 from the Boks, 29 gainline successes against four and many, many more passes and offloads than a team that was committed to scrambling defence.

Watching from the vantage point of the press box, it was obvious that the Boks were in big trouble and it was going to be a long second half against a team that always lifts intensity and puts opposition away in the final quarter.

Only this time they didn’t have to wait for the last quarter, for the game was really out of sight long before that.

SCORING AVALANCHE

The Boks didn’t help themselves with a wayward field kicking performance, not to mention the limitations of their mentality.

They’d selected a team to win it by kicking three pointers, so maybe you couldn’t blame Morne Steyn for trying to drop a goal when the Boks were in a rare good attacking position and had won quick ball shortly before halftime.

That decision pretty much summed up the Boks in the home leg of the Championship.

No imagination, no innovation, and no tries. They won the match against the Wallabies, who freeze with fear whenever they go to the Highveld, by happy accident the week before, but against the All Blacks the limited game-plan was never going to hold up.

Kicking the ball onto the All Blacks in the first half just drained the Boks of energy as the All Blacks' back three ran back at them with interest, and they paid for that bankrupt approach after halftime.

The Bok were the first on the board with a Steyn penalty from near the halfway line in the fourth minute, and although the All Blacks did most of the attacking after that, the hosts managed to scramble their way into the Kiwi half and kick another penalty in the 22nd minute to make it 6-0.

But while the Boks were ahead on the scoreboard it was the Kiwis doing all the playing, with their domination of the gainline battle effectively suffocating the Boks, who did well to hold the try scoring out until the 24th minute, which was when Juan de Jongh missed a tackle in the All Black 22 and the All Blacks swept upfield before stretching the Boks left and right across their tryline before Israel Dagg went over in the corner.

Another Steyn penalty from long range made it 9-5 but the All Blacks were gathering momentum.

Perenara was fortunate to be awarded his try, but the score did show the control that the All Blacks were starting to enjoy, with their forwards driving the Boks back several metres off a lineout before a burst from Anton Lienert-Brown created the space for Perenara to wriggle over.

The try that the All Blacks scored to put space between them and the Boks on the scoreboard straight after halftime featured a brilliant Ben Smith offload to Dagg after the Kiwis had patiently built up the pressure with ball in hand rugby that featured several variations in depth and angle.

Barrett was unable to convert so when Steyn kicked a penalty from almost in front the Boks were still in the game, but once a Pat Lambie clearance had been charged down by Lienert Brown for Barrett to score and a 10 point lead, there was no longer any debate about what might happen on the scoreboard.

The Boks wilted as the energetic All Blacks just kept coming at them, and the scoring avalanche that drowned the home team was highly predictable given how they been stretched to breaking point through a most uncomfortable 80 minutes.

All Black lock Brodie Retallick said during the week that the All Blacks were still searching for their first 80 minute performance. Those were not just ominous words, they were prophetic too, for this was undeniably it.

SCORES

New Zealand 57 – Tries: Israel Dagg 2, TJ Perenara 2, Beuaden Barrett 2, Codie Taylor, Ben Smith and Liam Squire; Conversions: Beauden Barrett 3 and Lima Sopoaga 3.

South Africa 15 – Penalties: Morne Steyn 5.

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