New Zealand edged South Africa 19-17 in the historic 100th Test match between the two nations to win the 2021 Rugby Championship at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville.
New Zealand edged South Africa to make it 10 Test wins in a row, while the Boks slip to a third successive defeat down under to relinquish their 2019 Rugby Championship crown.
The All Blacks retained the Freedom Cup for an 11th year with the victory and sealed yet another Southern Hemisphere title.
Jordie Barrett nailed five from five to see his team over the line and kicked a late goal to sink South Africa at the death of the Centenary Test.
The 24-year-old fullback won the game for his side with a 78th-minute penalty as New Zealand secured the two trophies and No. 1 World Ranking.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked four penalties but missed a crucial conversion, which cost his side a draw.
The 27-year-old first receiver’s boot has let him and his team down this season. He kicked away possession, missed tackles, and could not set his backline away.
Wingers Will Jordan and Sbu Nkosi scored three minutes apart early in the contest as the sides shared a try apiece.
South Africa’s defence stayed strong, while New Zealand’s blunt attack meant tries were a premium. In the end, it came down to the boot.
New Zealand edged the tight first half but South Africa stays in touch
Both teams dotted down in a tight first half which saw Ian Foster’s charges take a 13-11 lead.
Despite South Africa’s 17 missed tackles, the Boks managed to win critical turnovers at the breakdown to stay in touch.
New Zealand’s handling was again poor as the Kiwis turned over possession 10 times in the opening half.
South Africa’s ill-discipline was a rope around their neck as they conceded seven penalties to four, which allowed the Kiwis to come from 7-11 down to lead at the interval.
Jordan opened the scoring with a converted third-minute try before Nkosi capitalised on a mistake by George Bridge to put the Boks on the board.
Jordan scored his 12th Test try and first against the Boks from another classic Kiwi counter-attack.
A couple of quick throw-ins generated momentum for Foster’s side, with pick-and-drives getting the All blacks over the gain line.
Codie Taylor’s midfield break after slipping Lood de Jager’s weak tackle set the play in motion.
Taylor drew Pollard set up Jordan, who beat Willie Le Roux to score. Barrett converted.
But South Africa hit back immediately.
Nkosi took advantage of a dropped Faf de Klerk box-kick to get his ninth Test try.
Bridge had all the time in the world to make a mark, but he could not hang onto the ball.
Instead, dropping the ball into the path of the chasing winger, who grabbed the gift with both hands. Pollard missed the conversion.
Pollard traded penalties with Barrett to make it 11-10 to the Springboks, but a 35th-minute yellow card for Nkosi’s deliberate knockdown allowed the fullback to edge the Kiwis ahead at the break.
All Blacks mistakes do not prove costly despite Springboks dominating the second half
Nkosi’s card only cost the Boks three points as the All Blacks continued to make mistakes in the opposition’s Red Zone.
Handling errors and stolen lineouts and expert defending of the maul saw Jacques Nienaber’s side keep out wave after wave of black shirts.
The 2020 Tri-Nations champs made 16 handling errors to the four, conceding 23 turnovers to eight; however, the men in black had more possession, used the ball better while the halfbacks kicked away the ball.
Nienaber’s men began to take over at the breakdown, and the defence kept out a blunt Kiwi attack.
Pollard and Barrett traded penalties as the All Blacks led 16-14 going into the final quarter.
But the Boks would not go away, they continued to stop every attack as the opposition struggled with unforced errors.
More ill discipline by the ‘hosts’ saw Pollard again edge his team one point ahead from distance with a 68th-minute penalty.
Momentum was with the World Champions, who huffed and puffed but could not, however, finish off their illustrious rivals.
Several more turnovers saw each team counter-attacking from their 22s.
Makazole Mapimpi won almost every dual with Jordie Barrett, who struggled under the high ball.
New Zealand’s broken field play makes them dangerous. Le Roux found himself isolated, Quinn Tupaea won the penalty after the fullback did not release.
Barrett stepped up and slotted the long-range angled goal to seal the deal and the championship.
Final Score: New Zealand 19 (13) South Africa 17 (11)
Tries – Jordan
Pen – J. Barrett (4)
Con – J. Barrett
Tries – Nkosi
Pen – Pollard (4)
Cards – Nkosi (Yellow, 35′)
Referee: Luke Pearce (ENG)
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way (AUS)
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane (AUS)
TMO: Damon Murphy (AUS)
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea (capt), 7 Ethan Blackadder 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Saminsoni Taukei’aho, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Quinn Tupaea
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane (50th Test)
Replacements:16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Francois Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn