New Zealand’s All Blacks have won the 2016 Rugby Championship after beating South Africa 41-13 with a bonus point at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
The All Blacks move up to 20 points in the Rugby Championship standings and lead Australia in second place by 11 points so they cannot be caught as there are just two rounds remaining.
New Zealand outscored South Africa by six tries to one in the match which means they have taken a bonus point from all four of their matches played this season.
The All Blacks are also the only unbeaten team in the Rugby Championship and have now won their last 15 matches.
South Africa’s Springboks produced a vastly improved performance but it merely served to bring the best out of the All Blacks who once again underlined their status as the 2016 champions.
The Boks really felt the full might of the All Blacks’ all-conquering game in the second half when their defence was reduced to ordinary as they leaked four additional tries.
Straight from the kick-off, the All Blacks’ forwards produced a few promising ball-in-hand runs upfield which the Boks defended well but twice flyhalf Elton Janjties was blown up for offsides by Australian referee Angus Gardiner.
All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett goaled the second infringement in the eighth minute for a 3-0 lead.
The Boks’ early kicking game did not lend itself to gaining good field positions but their all-round intensity kept the All Blacks in check on attack.
In the 18th minute, the Boks had the All Blacks backtracking downfield as they put together several phases on the back of playing variations which ended with rightwing Bryan Habana scything through the defence for the game’s opening try. Jantjies’ conversion gave the Boks a 7-3 lead.
Up to this stage, the Boks were a mixture of good and bad. The latter came by way of handling mistakes and in the next eight minutes, the All Blacks exploited these with great advantage to score two tries to regain the lead.
Rightwing Israel Dagg was first to cross with a 21st minute try and six minutes later Julian Savea darted in at the opposite corner despite a desperate cover tackle by Habana. Barrett goaled one and the All Blacks more than doubled their lead at 15-7.
As play approached the halfway mark, the Boks showed occasional good touches on attack and this allowed them to keep the All Blacks on a defensive role for a while. The territorial advantage at this stage allowed Jantjies to convert a 36th-minute penalty and reduce the deficit at 15-10.
On the stroke of halftime, All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino had the crowd on the edge of their seats with a storming run from inside his own half but the cover defence saved the day for the Boks when the move broke down under the posts where lock Pieter-Steph du Toit secured a try-saving turn-over.
At the start of second-half play, the Boks held their own until a poor kick upfield by Jantjies allowed the All Blacks to counter-attack. The Boks managed several first-time tackles but they had no counter for the role of the supporting runners and fullback Ben Smith crossed in the 48th minute after which Barrett added the extras for a commanding 22-10 lead.
Jantjies kept the Boks in the picture with a penalty (22-13) three minutes later but All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith, arguably the world’s best No 9, intervened with great authority moments later and flanker Ardie Savea was on hand to round off with the team’s fourth try. Barrett’s conversion made it 29-13 and at that stage, with 20 minutes’ playing time left, the match looked beyond the Boks.
This scoreline advance effectively ended the match as a contest and further tries by lock Sam Whitelock and substitute TJ Perenara rubbed salt into the Springbok wounds at the end.
The Rugby Championship takes a break next week and returns on October 1 when South Africa host Australia in Pretoria and New Zealand travel to Buenos Aires to play Argentina.
More to follow.
Final Score New Zealand 41 (15) South Africa 13 (10)
Tries – I.Dagg, J.Savea, B.Smith, A.Savea, S.Whitelock, TJ Perenara
Pen – B.Barrett
Con – B.Barrett 4
Tries – B.Habana
Pen – E.Jantjies 2
Con – E.Jantjies
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Ref 1:Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant Ref 2:Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO : George Ayoub (Australia)
1. Joe Moody , 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick , 5. Samuel Whitelock , 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Kieran Read (c), 9. Aaron Smith , 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Malakai Fekitoa , 14. Israel Dagg , 15. Ben Smith ,
Replacements : 16. Codie Taylor, 17. Wyatt Crockett , 18. Charlie Faumuina , 19. Luke Romano, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Lima Sopoaga , 23. Anton Lienert-Brown
15. Johan Goosen , 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Elton Jantjies , 9. Faf de Klerk , 8. Warren Whiteley , 7. Oupa Mohoje, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Vincent Koch , 2. Adriaan Strauss (c), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff , 18. Lourens Adriaanse , 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Willem Alberts , 21. Jaco Kriel, 22. Morné Steyn, 23. Damian de Allende