All Blacks crush Springboks to con­trol of cham­pi­onship

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - AN­GELO RISSO AL­BANY

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.

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