All Blacks hit back in style with win over Springboks

New Zealand picked up their first win in this year’s Rugby Championship after they overcame South Africa 35-23 at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Tries from Sam Cane, Samisoni Taukei’aho, David Havili and Scott Barrett helped ease the pressure on Ian Foster as the All Blacks ended a three-game drought.

Richie Mo’unga also contributed massively off the tee with 15 points as New Zealand responded admirably after what has been a dismal few months in the camp.

Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi went over for South Africa’s tries while Handre Pollard slotted 13 points off the tee as they came up short in Johannesburg.

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After struggling with their starts to games in recent outings, it was a much-improved opening from the All Blacks in this second fixture as they came out well.

Using the cross-kick to good effect and with plenty of possession and territory to boot, they had a foothold in the contest and matched the hosts’ physicality.

Despite their early dominance, however, the All Blacks could not turn pressure into points and that was with Damian Willemse off the field after he was yellow carded for killing the ball at a ruck. The Boks managed to hold firm and eventually eased the pressure, thanks largely to Pieter-Steph du Toit’s intercept.

Like last week there was a need for tinkering in South Africa’s side early on as Jesse Kriel was replaced by Willie le Roux after he suffered a concussion. Willemse, on his return, moved to inside center with Am shifting to wing to accommodate Le Roux’s introduction at full-back, with more changes set to come.

New Zealand, to their credit, were much better in the forward exchanges and their improvements from last weekend were rewarded on 23 minutes as a run downfield that involved Will Jordan and Rieko Ioane ended with Lood de Jager straying offside. Mo’unga made no mistake off the tee and the All Blacks led.

Things would get even better for Foster’s charges three minutes later when Cane finished off Jordan’s pass on the right wing to make it 8-0 to the visitors.

South Africa were forced to act and sent on Malcolm Marx for Joseph Dweba before New Zealand scored again, this time Taukei’aho barging over to make it 15-0.

Cue Jasper Wiese and Steven Kitshoff’s arrival off the bench as Duane Vermeulen and Ox Nche made their way off and those changes paid dividends shortly after, with the ball coming to the right wing where Am was able to slip Caleb Clarke en route to the whitewash. Pollard’s extras made it 15-7 to the All Blacks.

Following the interval South Africa looked to build on that score and a Pollard penalty made it a two-point ball game on 45 minutes. However, a late Wiese tackle on Aaron Smith pushed New Zealand back into a five-point lead shortly after as the game looked destined to be a tight affair right until the finish.

South Africa thought they had leveled matters on 56 minutes when Am’s break from his own half led to Mapimpi crossing. However, obstruction from scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse was spotted by referee Luke Pearce and the try was chalked off, with Mo’unga slotting the resulting penalty to make it 21-13 to New Zealand.

South Africa playing catch-up

The Springboks would not be denied for long though as, following a Marx turnover, Willemse’s superb pass found Mapimpi who this time finished for the score.

After Pollard’s excellent touchline conversion it was a one-point deficit for the hosts and things looked promising for them when Beauden Barrett was sin-binned for taking out Hendrikse off the ball. The Springbok fly-half made no mistake in moving them into the lead for the first time as the comeback looked on.

But the All Blacks found one last burst of energy as, following Ioane’s lung-busting break from his own half, the ball was recycled for Havili to reach out, making it 26-23 on 74 minutes before Scott Barrett crashed over late on to rubber stamp a massive win that New Zealand as a team and country will savour.


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