A dismal performance from the Springboks handed the All Blacks a vital 35-23 win in their Rugby Championship clash at Ellis Park on Saturday evening.
The beleaguered visitors managed to get off to a strong start to take a 15-0 lead after 33 minutes, before the Boks fought back to take a 23-21 lead with 13 minutes left in the match.
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However a very poor final 10 minutes from the hosts then saw the All Blacks to run in two late converted scores, at a time when it was expected that they would be struggling, allowing them to break a three match losing streak and ease the pressure on their coach Ian Foster.
It was an action packed start to the match for the All Blacks, who came close to scoring a couple of times, while the Boks saw fullback Damian Willemse get an early yellow card for not rolling away at a ruck on the 5m.
The home fans then had something to shout for in the ninth minute as flank Pieter-Steph du Toit intercepted a pass on the halfway and sprinted away before being tackled just short, with the Boks then held up over the line.
In the build up to that break, Bok wing Jesse Kriel took a knock to the head and went off to be replaced by Willie le Roux.
After a scoreless first 25 minutes, Richie Mo’unga got the visitors on the board through a penalty, before they ran in their first try after a good break from wing Caleb Clarke ended with captain Sam Cane going in at the corner to make it 8-0.
In the 33rd minute the All Blacks were in for their second, more good play getting them deep into the Boks 22m, where hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho crashed over in the corner, Mo’unga this time nailing his touchline conversion for a 15-0 lead.
The Boks made a number of early subs during the final 10 minutes of the half, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Jasper Wiese coming on for Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche and Duane Vermeulen respectively.
The home side then made a strong finish to the half as they attacked from a lineout maul, spreading the ball for Lukhanyo Am to receive it and power through two tackle attempts to score in the corner, with Pollard slotting the conversion and a long range penalty on the halftime hooter to make it 15-10 at the break.
Pollard and Mo’unga then traded penalties in the first 10 minutes of the half, before wing Makazole Mapimpi thought he had scored in the 58th minute, only for the ref to call them back for a supposed block in the build-up, giving Mo’unga another penalty to put the visitors 21-13 up.
Straight from the kick-off the Boks then won the ball back, spread it wide quickly, for Mapimpi to go over in the corner, with Pollard’s touchline conversion making it a one point game with 20 minutes to play.
A cynical block from All Blacks replacement back Beauden Barrett on scrumhalf Jaden Hendriksein the 67th minute saw him receive a yellow card, with Pollard knocking over the penalty to give the Boks the lead for the first time in the game.
The All Blacks then hit back in the 74th minute after a brilliant break into the Boks 22m saw them go through the phases and end with David Havili dotting down, with Mo’unga’s conversion giving them a 28-23 lead.
The visitors then sealed the win with another try in the final minute as they attacked from a 5m lineout, lock Scott Barrett forced himself over from close range, and Mo’unga added the extras to give them a big win.
Tries: Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi
Conversions: Handre Pollard (2)
Penalties: Pollard (3)
Tries: Sam Cane, Samisoni Taukei’aho, David Havili, Scott Barrett
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (3)
Penalties: Mo’unga (3)