RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT: Ruthless All Blacks outplay Boks as they put one hand on Rugby Championship trophy

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP RESULT: Ruthless All Blacks outplay Boks as they put one hand on Rugby Championship trophy

New Zealand 35 (20) South Africa 20 (3)

It’s hard to win Tests in New Zealand at the best of times. It’s impossible if you barely touch the ball in the first quarter and give up a 17-0 lead to the home team.

The Springboks were beaten in the opening 20 minutes of this match, and for the next hour they were forced to play catch-up rugby. They had good moments, but the All Blacks made a statement with their ferocity and accuracy early on. The wait for a first Bok win in Auckland since 1937 will be extended for another year at least. 

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In many ways the All Blacks performance was right out of the current Boks’ playbook. They dominated collisions, employed a brilliantly accurate kicking game and executed to perfection, edged the lineout battle and mauled superbly.

They kicked 27 times from hand to the 14 of the Boks. They also scored four tries to three. Let no one say kicking won’t win Test matches, but it has to be accurate and calculated. For the most part, the All Blacks were both.

Shannon Frizell scores the All Blacks
’ second try against the Springboks during The Rugby Championship match at Mt Smart Stadium on 15 July in Auckland (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Slow start

The Boks simply had no answers early on, and found themselves in such a deep hole that they could barely see any light. They were forced into errors and gave away four consecutive penalties in this period, which also stunted any chance of easing the pressure.

Before the Boks’ first lineout in the 18th minute, the All Blacks had 88% possession and almost the same amount of territory. It was one-way traffic.

It’s a timely wake-up call after the highs of beating the Wallabies 43-12 last week, but most of the players not involved at Loftus looked rusty and out of sorts. Especially against the ferocity of the early onslaught from the All Blacks.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Boks underline their killer mentality by focusing on missed chances against Wallabies and not the winning margin

Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Jasper Wiese, Damian Willemse (who did play last week), Franco Mostert and Damian de Allende were well off the pace as they adjusted to the highest intensity the sport has to offer.

Only scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, and perhaps Cheslin Kolbe, of the players who didn’t play against Australia last week, were up to speed initially.

De Klerk was a constant, buzzing presence, until a leg injury forced him off the field midway through the second half. At that point the Boks had narrowed the deficit to eight points, which was as close as they came to making it a contest.

“The start wasn’t ideal for us… We struggled to get into the game because of poor discipline,” coach Jacques Nienaber said. “We gave away four penalties and a quality side like New Zealand, they capitalised on that.”

Sizzling Frizell

All Black flank Shannon Frizell was excellent, particularly in the first half, as he broke tackles almost at will and created unstoppable momentum for his team.

Wing Will Jordan was another to catch the eye with his ghosting runs and ability to drift into little pockets of space as if he were mist on a breeze.

He created the opening try after only four minutes for scrumhalf Aaron Smith and was continually dangerous every time he touched the ball in space. He scored himself to kill off the Boks’ comeback in the 70th minute when he ran on to a Beauden Barrett ki

…. to be continued
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