A late Herschel Jantjies try secured a 16-16 draw for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship Round Two match against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.
Like kissing your sister? Aikona – not in the least. Just look at the hugging Springboks at the final whistle of this drawn Test and you know that Tom Pearce was wrong when he said drawing is like kissing your sister. The Springboks saw it as a triumph. Or maybe it was just relief as Handré Pollard stroked the conversion and the referee blew the final whistle.
16-all in Wellington, New Zealand, a try and three penalties goals apiece, it was a deserved draw in a match that was close throughout.
The result leaves the Springboks on top of the Rugby Championship log but with a trip to Pumaland to come.
Say what you like about this Springboks team A Team or B Team or A-B mix, it is a team to take on the very best.
There was an irony in the result. In the first half the Springboks were on top and the All Blacks scored the only try of the half, just before the end of the half. In the second half the All Blacks were on top and the Springboks scored the only try of the half, just before the end of the match.
That Springbok try came as time ran to an end and they strove desperately to get forward while the All Blacks kept them well away from their line. The score was 16-9 and a penalty goal was of no use to the Springboks. Then came the triumph of the little men. They got the ball out to Cheslin Kolbe on the wing. He darted ahead and then chipped into the All Blacks’ 22 where Ben Smith and Herschel Jantjies went up for the ball. Jantjies knocked the ball ahead, caught it and dived over for his third try in two Tests. It was only 13 metres from touch, but, nervelessly it seemed, Pollard smoothly goaled the conversion, the final whistle went and the Springboks were jubilant.
In the first half, the Springboks were quicker, more accurate and calmer, and they dominated territory and possession while the All Blacks had none of the calm confidence one has come to expect. They looked jittery and their handling was poor but they scored the try.
The Springboks led 6-0 through two Pollard penalties, both for centre offences – Jack Goodhue at a tackle and offside by Sonny Bill Williams whose muscular advances were well contained by the Springboks.
Then came New Zealand’s try. Kolbe darted ahead at speed but was tackled, Duane Vermeulen knocked on, from inside their own half, the All Blacks countered. They went wide where Barrett raced down the touchline on his life jest getting past Lakhanya Am. Challenged by Willie le Roux he passed inside to Goodhue who scored the try. Barrett kicked the easy conversion to give the All Blacks a 7-6 lead at half-time.
New Zealand was now way above the rest of the world in Test points Their 16 000 points was thousands ahead of next-best.
The second half was different. The All Blacks were more intense, dominated the breakdown and had a had the penalty count on their side.
It was also a half of many changes. Barrett kicked a penalty when Kwagga Smith, who had a splendid match otherwise, was penalised at a tackle and then missed penalty when the Springboks were penalised at a scrum, a surprise penalty. Off came Frans Malherbe and on went Trevor Nyakane. There were two more scrum penalties in the match, both against New Zealand.
Just eight minutes into the half, Faf de Klerk went off for a head injury assessment and was replaced by Jantjies who played the rest of the match with his speed and energy – and that try which will became famous as Ricky Januarie’s at Carisbrook in 2008.
Pollard kicked his third penalty when the All Blacks were penalised at scrum and with 20 minutes to play New Zealand led 10-9.
There was a brief squabble after this with – unsurprising – Dane Coles prominent, a silliness in an otherwise honorable match.
Barrett had missed two penalty attempts in the match and Richie Mo’unga, who had had a nervous start to the game when two of his clearing kicks were charged down. goaled two penalties to make it 16-9. The Springboks appeared to be unfortunate with the second one, against Francois Louw at a tackle, because it seemed that the All Blacks had knocked on before Louw’s infringement.
16-9 it was with seven minutes to play.
New Zealand were penalised but Pollard’s kick for the five-metre line was not out. Barrett kicked downfield. From the lineout won by RG Snyman, in New Zealand’s half, the Springboks probed with short phases till they got that pass to Kolbe who chipped that kick infield that Jantjies caught for that try which Pollard converted.
It was a draw that seemed like victory for the Springboks and a defeat for the All Blacks.
Man of the Match: It would be a little easier if you were to confine the choice to the 16 players who played the whole match, but that would exclude Kwagga Smith, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff and Herschel Jantjies, for they are all contenders. But it would include Jack Goodhue, Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara of New Zealand and, of the Springboks, Cheslin Kolbe, who is our choice, for his attacking flair and his defence which told the old story that a man cannot run without legs and if you cut them off at the ankles it does not matter who big or fast he is. Cheslin Kolbe is our Man of the Match.
For New Zealand:
Pens: Barrett, Mo’unga 2
For South Africa:
Pens: Pollard 3
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 George Bridge.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
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