All Blacks crush Springboks to control of championship
THE All Blacks pummelled South Africa 57-0 in yesterday’s Rugby Championship Test at North Harbour Stadium.
The world champions cleaned the floor with the Springboks, running in eight unanswered tries and playing with the attacking brilliance they were known for in 2016.
Five-eighth Beauden Barrett was exceptional, bouncing back from last week’s subdued display against Argentina to notch up two try assists. Aaron Smith put on a clinic at halfback and locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock ran amok through the middle.
New Zealand’s ability to attack against unstructured defences was simply too potent allowing Nehe Milner-Skudder to score twice and Rieko Ioane, Scott Barrett, Retallick, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Anton LienertBrown and Codie Taylor to also cross the line.
With four wins from four, the All Blacks are now in pole position to retain the Rugby Championship, with trips to Buenos Aires and Cape Town to come.
The Springboks, meanwhile, will lick their wounds after falling to their first Test defeat of 2017.
Stacking the breakdown early and denying the All Blacks time and space to run free, the South Africans appeared keen to start a war of attrition.
But their tactics didn’t work for long, as the All Blacks shook off a slow start to spectacularly score twice within the space of four minutes.
Ahead 3-0 in the 17th minute, Smith took a quick-tap penalty and dinked a cute leftfooted kick into the corner, where Ioane burned off his opposite to score. Four minutes later, it was Barrett’s turn to impress.
Winger Milner-Skudder pinched an intercept on the right edge, before playing a clever one-two with Barrett to score the All Blacks’ second, suddenly putting the wind in their sails.
Further tries to Scott Barrett and Retallick - the latter a length-of-the-field effort ensued, taking the hosts into the break 31-0 ahead.
Second-half efforts to Tu’ungafasi, Milner-Skudder, Taylor and LienertBrown put an exclamation mark on the All Blacks’ performance.