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Epic All Blacks fightback breaks Springboks resolve

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New Zealand came from behind to beat South Africa 30-32 in another epic Rugby Championship Test at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, breaking the Springboks hearts.

Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea scored with less than four minutes to play and Richie Mo’unga did his bit with the boot, to give the All Blacks a famous victory over their great rivals.

These two great rugby nations delivered another classic Test match. This was a seven-try thriller with all the five-pointers coming in the second half after an intense, tight first stanza.

The scores were level at 6-all at the break but the match burst into life when the Springboks raced into a 23-6 and 30-13 lead.

The World Champions got back into the game through a contentious try by Aaron Smith after a forward pass in the build-up.

However, Cheslin Kolbe was awarded a try in the corner when he dotted down after a double-movement to put the home team 27 points ahead with 20 minutes to play.

New Zealand retains the Freedom Cup after two classic battles and continues their hold over the Boks in Pretoria, not losing at the spiritual home of the Afrikaaner since 1970.

Rassie Erasmus’ late-game substitutions started the rot. The Boks coach took off his best – and most experienced – players which, although a regular occurance, seemed like he was coaching by numbers.

South Africa needed to keep Faf de Klerk and Malcolm Marx on the field because the Boks lost their way when they left the pitch.

The substitutions played into Steve Hansen’s hands and his own “game-changers” took full advantage of the error.

The All Blacks scored 19 unanswered points in a furious fightback and the Springboks wilted.

Eagerly awaited rematch.

Both nations – and the world – were awaiting this anticipated clash after the Springboks recorded a famous 34-36 victory against the All Blacks in Wellington in Round four.

It was one of the great clashes in the long history of the world’s two traditional powerhouses.

The 11-try thriller will be best remembered for South Africa’s famous defensive rearguard, making 235 tackles to the Kiwis’ 61 while making an astonishing 131 to 4 in the final 20 minutes.

Erasmus’ men dominated the first half but could not find a way past the visitor’s staunch defence, wasting multiple opportunities to score once they entered the red zone.

There were no tries, but no shortage of physicality or intensity.

Kieran Read endured a torrid time, giving away penalties, missing tackles and being out-played by his opposite number Francois Louw, who was a colossus.

Aaron Smith was enduring a nightmare at the hands of his opposite number.

De Klerk, who harried the scrumhalf into giving away penalties, forced Smith into basic mistakes.

His team was way off the pace and made too many mistakes and were sloppy in possession, coughing up the ball with ease.

Handre Pollard and Beauden Barrett traded two penalties to leave the scores level.

The hosts will rue their wastefulness in possession which proved costly in the end.

Second half thriller saw tries galore.

The second stanza saw the game turn one way and the next.

Jesse Kriel finished off a wonderful seven-phase move that started when Willie Le Roux took Beauden Barrett’s wasteful kick and starting a counter-attack.

Kriel ghosted through some sloppy tackling after some slick hands by the forwards.

Hansen took charge afterwards, acting rather than reacting. He made some early substitutions as he sensed South Africa were getting on top of his men.

Pollard extended the lead to 10 with a penalty.

The Bokke were gaining confidence, finding holes all over the park.

Siya Kolisi shrugged off Tim Perry and Patrick Tuipulotu, played Damian de Allende in with a Sonny Bill Williamsesqe offload to scenes of delirium.

Officiating fiasco continues to plague the game.

New Zealand, as they always do, scored straight afterwards to reduce the deficit back to 10, but there was an element of luck that helped in the build-up.

Codie Taylor sped away from Kolisi’s clutches when South Africa botched the restart.

Taylor kept his head on a swivel looking for a support runner, which he duly got in the form of Aaron Smith on his outside shoulder.

Replays showed that the hooker’s pass was forward despite the TMO taking a look deciding the pass was okay.

But, we’ve seen this level of incompetence from officials before. It was not the referee Angus Gardner’s fault, however.

The Australian ref was excellent, allowing the game to flow and penalising the All Blacks more than most referees have done.

They say that mistakes are evened out during the course of the game and it was the tourists’ turn to be aggrieved at some dodgy officiating.

On the stroke of the hour mark, Cheslin Kolbe was tackled short of the goal line when scoring seemed easier than not.

Instead of diving for the corner flag, the winger tried to cut inside Beauden Barrett, who had moved to fullback after Richie Mo’unga came on at first-five eight.

Rieko Ioane stopped Kolbe short of the line, but Gardner awarded the score after another TMO review.

Kolbe was adjudged to have legally reached out and dotted down on the whitewash without a double movement.

It was a poor call because he could not have done so without illegally doing so.

The try stood, however, and New Zealand was 17 points behind with time ticking away.

Awesome All Blacks comeback at the death.

With the crowd in full voice singing “Olé” and doing Mexican Waves, Read’s men dug deep and hit back in trademark fashion.

They did what they do best, keeping cool under pressure and doing the basics well.

From a driving maul, the All Blacks sent the ball wide to Ioane to finish in the corner and throw his side a lifeline.

It sent the crowd quiet because they have seen this movie before and it was a horror show.

Mo’unga missed the touchline conversion but the gap was only 12.

South Africa repelled wave after wave of attacks, but they were tiring.

Erasmus made the changes to stem the black tide.

It did not have the effect he would have liked as his team crumbled.

Ardie Savea won two crucial turnovers that started the charge to victory.

A 13-phase move that started with the Boks losing possession and Scott Barrett powering over.

And just like clockwork, the World Champions delivered the knockout blow when Savea finished off.

South Africa versus New Zealand video highlights

Final score: South Africa 30 (6) New Zealand 32 (6)

Scorers

South Africa
Tries – Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe
Pen – Pollard (3)
Con – Pollard (3)
Drop –
Cards –

New Zealand
Tries – A. Smith, R. Ioane, S. Barrett, A. Savea
Pen – B. Barrett (2)
Con – Mo’unga (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner (ARU)
Assistant Ref 1: Jerome Garces (FFR)
Assistant Ref 2: Matthew Carley (RFU)
TMO: Graham Hughes (RFU)

Teams

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

New Zealand

15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

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