Lethal attacking at the death deprive the Boks of victory
South Africa led the match until the 72nd minute, so the All Black onslaught not only caught the players in green off guard, but turned the entire Kings Park Stadium silent, and left people watching televisions (in South Africa at least) gaping in astonishment.
The slaughter in the final quarter of the game exposed a South African side that had grown tired not only in the game itself, but through the many battles that preceded this vital match. The All Blacks simply looked a lot fresher, and the tactic to wait as long as possible and then attack the beleaguered Boks worked like a bomb.
This despite an opening blizzard of dominating Bok power. Flanker Schalk Burger was brilliant. The Boks started their lead with two penalties, culminating in an unconverted try from a brilliant Butch James in the last minute of the first half. The threat of All Black superstar Dan Carter was contained, but he was not on form on Saturday, had he been the All Black victory might have been more decisive.
The statistics though, at the end of the first half showed that the Boks were doing most of the energy sapping tackling, with 50 as opposed to the All Black tally of just 37.
The second half began ominously with the yellow carding of Pedrie Wannenburg. He left the field for 10 minutes, leaving the Boks outnumbered against the resurgent All Blacks. To complicate matters further, Butch James, who had had a storming game, was substituted by Frans Steyn, who now had to play flyhalf. The 20 year-old last week achieved hero status against the Wallabies, but it was a mistake to throw the youngster against the rising All Black tide. And so it seemed on these two defining moments, the match began to turn.
As Bok coach Jake White put it: “I rather believe we lost it rather than to say we were taken apart and beaten.”
Man of the match, number 8 Rodney So'oialo said: "The game is 80 minutes, and we knew if we continued running with the ball in hand we'd tire them out and holes would start appearing."
That said, the All Blacks proved they are the team to beat in the Rugby World Cup in September. The Kiwis were trailing 21-12 with less than 15 minutes left, and proved their incredible toughness and resilience once more. Captain Richie McCaw, with hard man Jerry Collins in support, scored for the first of two post 70 minute tries by overwhelming two defenders to touch down.
Soon after, All Black winger Joe Rokocoko cruised in for an easy as you please try, leaving in his wake desperate Springbok players lying on the ground, an unusual looseness on the field which the All Blacks used build momentum once more. Carter converted for the final score: 26-21. The All Blacks were unlucky not to score a third try in the final minute.
SA Coach White has sent a ‘B’ team for the Wallaby game in Australia, in order to save his tiring squad ahead of the World Cup. Meanwhile, the victorious All Blacks will need to recover from Saturday’s bruiser in time for their next energy sapping Tri-Nations clash.