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MATCH REPORT: Springboks edge All Blacks in one of the GREATEST Tests

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2nd October, 2021
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South Africa have inflicted New Zealand’s first loss of the Rugby Championship, with an Elton Jantjies penalty goal after time had expired sealing a thrilling 31-29 win in an instant classic.

A week after being criticised for their 100th Test match not living up to the hype, the All Blacks and Springboks played out one of the greatest matches in their illustrious rivalry to close out the Rugby Championship with a bang.

The All Blacks looked poised to run away with the game late in the first half, but the Springboks put their trademark clamps down on the contest and slowly worked their way in front – before a dramatic finish saw the lead change hands four times in the last five minutes alone.

Handre Pollard had the first opportunity to put points on the board, but his penalty kick – from an admittedly difficult position – was well off to the right.

But the Springboks would hit the scoreboard first – and in uncharacteristically flashy fashion.

The All Blacks won the turnover in their half of the ground and were looking to spread the ball – but miscommunication on a pass out wide saw them cough it up.

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South Africa went on the attack, and it was a filthy flick pass behind the back from Lukhanyo Am that set them off down the wing. Sbu Nkosi received the ball, before relaying it to Damian de Allende – who crossed to cap off what was a superb opening try.

Pollard, having missed two kicks, finally nailed a penalty kick to put the Boks up 8-3 – but their five-point lead was erased instantly by some All Black brilliance.

Beauden Barrett caught the Springboks by surprise with a perfect chip kick to a free Sevu Reece on the sideline. He evaded a defender and managed to ground the ball right by the touchline to level the scores – after a lengthy TMO check to confirm.

Pollard briefly gave the Springboks and 11-8 lead, but it was then New Zealand’s turn to remind us why they’re the number one team in the world.

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A superb break up the middle of the field saw multiple All Blacks keep their feet and fire off a difficult pass under immense tackling pressure – with Ardie Savea the man lucky enough to finish the play off with a try.

Anton Lienert-Brown came agonisingly close to crossing in the corner again thanks to an unbelievable pass to the sideline from Beauden Barrett. He was tackled into touch, but the Springboks fluffed their lineout close to goal and Brad Weber was able to pounce for another try.

South Africa were bending and were threatening to break, but managed to shore up their play as the half wound down and got some point back with a penalty goal to trail 20-14 at the break.

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Jacques Nienaber’s side came into the second half a lot more composed and were able to get the game back on their own terms after the first 40 was played in the flashy manner of the All Blacks.

A fourth three-pointer to Pollard trimmed the deficit to 20-17 and a big territory advantage was gained soon after thanks to a 50-22 from Frans Steyn.

The Boks were patient with the ball off the lineout and did well to spread it across the field after their maul was almost forced into touch. Faf de Klerk was heavily involved and was crucial in the set-up that eventually saw Makazole Mapimpi cross and steal the lead.

Elton Jantjies added a penalty goal a few minutes later to extend the lead to five points.

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It was an unrecognisable second half compared to the first. South Africa had New Zealand hemmed in close to their try line, were dominating possession and applying pressure to the point where the normally cool and calm All Black operators were making mistakes.

Indeed, when New Zealand finally had a lineout five metres out from the Bokke line, a poor throw was picked off by Steven Kitshoff.

Controversy would reign soon after, however. First, Steyn was penalised for running into Jordie Barrett after a kick – but Andrew Mehrtens in Stan Sport commentary was furious with the decision – lambasting the referees for, in his view, lacking common sense.

Barrett nailed the penalty goal to trim the margin to two, but there would be another controversial decision soon after when De Allende was penalised for a deliberate knock-on on what looked to be a reasonable attempted intercept.

As if the match needed any more after that, fists started to fly as both sides started to crack under the pressure, with Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth both forced from the ground with blood after a head clash.

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Barrett kicked a penalty goal amidst the chaos to re-take the lead, but Jantjies kicked a ripping drop goal just after the restart to again put South Africa ahead.

There was still plenty of drama to be had, with the All Blacks awarded another penalty from the next restart – and Jordie Barrett just snuck the difficult kick inside the right post with under two minutes remaining.

Disaster struck for the Springboks off the next restart, with their short kick-off failing to travel the required ten metres. The All Blacks won the ensuing scrum to put the finish in their hands, but Duane Vermeulen was able to win the turnover and win a crucial penalty.

South Africa, interestingly, elected not to have a match-winning kick and instead sent the ball down the other end of the field as the clock ticked past 80 minutes. They worked the ball into the middle of the field off the maul and then won the decisive penalty in front of the sticks after the All Blacks were caught offside.

Jantjies stepped up, kicked the decisive goal and capped off one of the greatest Test matches rugby has seen.

Full time

South Africa – 31
New Zealand – 29

Tries

Springboks: De Allende (5′), Mapimpi (51′)
All Blacks: Reece (12′), Savea (27′), Weber (32′)

Conversion Goals

Springboks: Pollard 0/2
All Blacks: J. Barrett 1/3 (28′)

Penalty Goals

Springboks: Pollard 4/5 (11′, 23′, 41′, 44′), Jantjies 2/2 (57′, 81′)
All Blacks: J. Barrett 3/3 (9′, 75′, 78′)

Drop Goals

Springboks: Jantjies (76′)
All Blacks:

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