Johannesburg - New Zealand retained the Rugby Championship on Saturday with a deserved
five-try 38-27 triumph over greatest rivals South Africa at Ellis Park.
As it happened: Boks v NZ
The clinical world champions led 21-15 at
half-time and overcame second-half yellow cards to forwards Liam Messam
and Ben Franks to finish nine points ahead of the Springboks in the
A much-anticipated showdown between the top two teams on the world rankings, the match had everything, including a typing error.
referee Nigel Owens queried the introduction of replacement All Blacks
hooker Keven Mealamu -- a last-minute change -- the New Zealand manager
came on the field and blamed a "typing error".
He did not explain
how the spelling of Mealamu could be confused with Dane Coles, the
original reserve hooker, but Springboks skipper Jean de Villiers was
happy for play to continue.
New Zealand and South Africa enjoyed
early spells of territorial dominance before fly-half Morne Steyn broke
the deadlock with a close-range penalty on 10 minutes.
lead before a 64 000 crowd did not last long as right-wing Ben Smith
went over for his eighth Championship try this season.
Kieran Read made the hard yards after the Springboks surrendered
possession in midfield and Smith cut in and held off Steyn to dot down.
Aaron Cruden converted and the All Blacks were 7-3 ahead as silence
enveloped the sell-out crowd at the spiritual home of Springbok rugby.
they had plenty to cheer five minutes later as left-wing Bryan Habana
grabbed his first try after a brilliant break from No. 8 Duane
The giant, blond forward surged between several New
Zealand defenders before passing to Habana, who stormed over for a try
It got even better for the home side just two minutes later with a forward again the architect and Habana again the try scorer.
the men in green and gold went wide, flanker Francois Louw delivered a
superb off-load, Habana kicked ahead and easily won a race to the line
with Ben Smith.
Steyn watched his conversion drift wide of the far post, but South Africa had a 15-7 advantage midway through the opening half.
However, the Springboks were dealt a cruel blow on 22 minutes with Habana was forced to retire because of a hamstring injury.
see-saw struggle took another turn when scrum-half Aaron Smith was
held just short, but flanker Messam grabbed the ball and dived over for
Cruden to convert.
South Africa held that one-point lead for 13 minutes in a titanic struggle with neither side gaining a clear edge in any area.
the opening half ended disastrously for the Springboks as they lost
flanker Willem Alberts to injury and allowed Messam score a soft try.
All Blacks ran patiently forward and across the field after the siren
sounded and Messam punished several weak tackles, Cruden converted and
New Zealand had a 21-15 half-time lead.
Messam was yellow carded early in the second half as the referee lost patience with the constantly infringing All Blacks pack.
the resulting tap penalty produced a third South African try with the
ball sent along the line for right-wing Willie le Roux to go over and
All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu was foiled by a
superb tackle from replacement flank Siya Kolisi on 55 minutes, but
substitute fly-half Beauden Barrett kicked a penalty for a 24-22 edge.
De Villiers and Barrett then exchanged tries with the New Zealand score crucial as it sealed a bonus point and the title.
missed his conversion while Barrett was successful from a much easier
position, leaving the visitors four points ahead with 20 minutes left.
who scored two tries in a 29-15 home win last month, scored a fifth New
Zealand try after good blindside work and Barrett converted.
Tries: Habana 2, Le Roux, De Villiers
Con: Steyn 2
Tries: B Smith, Messam 2, Barrett, Read
Con: Cruden 3, Barrett 2
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau