The All Blacks, ridden with handling errors, secured victory over Boks via a magnificent Jordie Barrett penalty with two minutes to play from distance and five metres from touch; Will Jordan and S’bu Nkosi traded tries in first half; All Blacks clinch Rugby Championship title with win
Last Updated: 25/09/21 10:43am
New Zealand earned a hard-fought 19-17 win over South Africa in Townsville on Saturday to secure the Rugby Championship title with a match to spare.
The 100th Test between rugby’s two most successful nations did not disappoint and it was not until Jordie Barrett kicked his fourth penalty two minutes from the end that the All Blacks took the lead for the final time.
All Blacks winger Will Jordan and his Springboks counterpart S’bu Nkosi scored early tries but from then on it was a kicking duel between South Africa flyhalf Handre Pollard and Barrett to decide the spoils.
Ultimately, Barrett’s 14 points from the tee were enough to give New Zealand a 12th southern hemisphere Test championship title and a 10th successive test win.
South Africa, coming off back-to-back losses to Australia, were improved but did not carve out nearly enough scoring opportunities to keep alive their hopes of winning the tournament into next week’s return match on the Gold Coast.
“We knew this game was going to come down to the wire, it was tit-for-tat out there,” said New Zealand forward Ardie Savea. “They put us under a lot of pressure. Just relieved really.”
Scrum-half Faf de Klerk sent box-kick after box-kick into the Townsville sky and his forwards muscled up in the tight and at the set piece.
The All Blacks scored first in the third minute when hooker Codie Taylor latched onto a loose ball and found room to burst up the middle before finding Jordan in support with a clear sprint to the line.
The Springboks hit back almost immediately with All Blacks winger George Bridge losing a de Klerk bomb in the evening sky and Nkosi pouncing to touch down.
Two Handre Pollard penalties gave South Africa an 11-7 lead after 13 minutes but Jordie Barrett put the All Blacks back in front with two of his own, the second after Nkosi had been sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock down.
New Zealand held the 13-11 half-time lead until Pollard’s third penalty just before the hour mark but Barrett was quickly able to restore the slender advantage.
Another penalty after the collapse of a rolling maul allowed Pollard to put South Africa 17-16 in front in the 67th minute – a sixth change of lead – but Barrett was unerring when his chance came to seal the win.
“It was tough, it was an awesome contest and it was a fair contest,” said Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
“It’s been a tough two weeks but I’m proud of the way the boys stood up today.”