A week after the world eviscerated northern hemisphere rugby this was a match for the English purest. The South African’s used the lineout, the maul and the box kick to great effect to set up kicking opportunities for the excellent Pollard. He took them with ease, putting the South Africans ahead by three inside the first three minutes.
The All Blacks response was immediate. They charged up to the South African 22 and calmly went through the phases bringing the ball wide and back centre, probing through the South African’s defence. Suddenly Carter burst into space and played an amazing pass over the top of the South African line to McCaw who swung it to Kaino on the line. Carter scored the conversion: naturally.
The South African’s came back throughout the game however, powering forward with their pack. The penalties flowed and Pollard took them greedily. For their part the All Blacks looked to play the ball on the wing with Carter attempting to play intelligent grubber kicks to Milner-Skudder, who was kept very quiet by the amazing Bok’s defence.
As the first half entered its dotage the Africans were in control. Their box kicks put the New Zealander’s under great pressure and their breakdown play was superb. A yellow card for Kaino for playing the ball in an offside position followed and Pollard bisected the posts once more as the half ended.
South Africa needed to take control of the first ten minutes with their man advantage. They did not. New Zealand stormed into the South African half constantly probing their defence. Though not threatening to score a try they did move the clock down and, a man down, Carter scored an amazing drop goal to bring them back to two points.
The South African’s pack had been amazing throughout but, on their own five meter line, they lost the most crucial scrum of the match. The ball popped out, claimed by the All Blacks who went for the jugular with pace, the ball constantly recycled and the angles constantly reversed. Looking for the foul they enticed Habana into slapping the ball out of A. Smith’s hands. Content to drive the knife further in Nonu, finally released, tore towards the left touchline. The South African defence didn’t know whether to tick or twist and his beautiful pass to Barrett set him in for an easy finish.
The South African’s stayed within touching distance through their superb penalty taking. Their lack of penetration, made it a difficult task though and, though they remained within touching distance the game seemed to pass them by at the end without much attempt to rest back control.