All Blacks sweep sea­son af­ter New­lands clas­sic

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - THE TITLE - By Jo­han de Witt

WORLD cham­pi­ons New Zealand held off a spir­ited fight from hosts South Africa to com­plete their Rugby Cham­pi­onship cam­paign un­beaten af­ter a 25-24 win in a fe­ro­cious phys­i­cal bat­tle at New­lands.

Each side scored three tries in a thrilling spec­ta­cle as South Africa re­stored some pride af­ter be­ing beaten by a record 57-0 in New Zealand last month.

New Zealand’s tries came from Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane and Damian McKen­zie while Ross Cronje, Jean-Luc du Preez and Mal­colm Marx scored for the home side.

New Zealand led 8-3 at the break af­ter a bruis­ing first half but were given a scare as Marx’s 79thminute try, con­verted by El­ton Jan­tjies, took the hosts to within a point.

But they held on to fin­ish the south­ern hemi­sphere cham­pi­onship with a 100 per cent suc­cess rate for a sec­ond suc­ces­sive year.

They had se­cured the ti­tle for a fifth time in six years last week.

The teams traded early penal­ties be­fore Crotty scored a first try for the All Blacks, chas­ing on to a charge down by Beau­den Bar­rett and scram­bling be­yond the try line to ground it. The points were awarded af­ter lengthy de­lib­er­a­tions by the TMO.

The first half ex­tended for eight min­utes af­ter the hooter as the two teams kept the ball alive, look­ing for a score in a bruis­ing bat­tle of at­tri­tion.

Af­ter the break, South Africa piled on the scrum pres­sure and scored within five min­utes as No9 Ross Cronje took the ball from the ruck to go over.

The con­ver­sion from El­ton Jan­tjies put South Africa 10-8 up be­fore Lima Sopoaga missed a kick­able penalty.

With the crowd be­hind them, the Spring­boks surged for­ward to try to ex­tend their lead, only for wing Ioane to pick off an in­ter­cep­tion and out­sprint the de­fence, run­ning 80m for a sec­ond NZ try.

But within three min­utes South Africa had re­stored their two-point ad­van­tage as hooker Mal­com Marx took the ball in­side the 22 and set up sub­sti­tute JeanLuc Du Preez for the try.

A mo­ment of magic again proved the cat­a­lyst for the All Blacks at a de­ci­sive mo­ment in the game as a counter-at­tack by David Havli, on for only his sec­ond cap, caught out a dis­jointed de­fen­sive line and saw McKen­zie jink over.

South Africa then lost cen­tre Damian de Al­lende to a red card in the last five min­utes for a late tackle on Sopoaga as he drop kicked wide.

Even down to 14 men, South Africa ral­lied in the clos­ing stages, and Marx scored with less than two min­utes re­main­ing.

But a turnover as they pressed for­ward in search of an up­set win al­lowed the All Blacks to kick out the ball and claim the win − and 100 per­cent record. SOUTH AFRICA: Coet­zee, Leyds, J Kriel, Ser­fontein, Skosan, Jan­tjies, Cronje, Kit­shoff, Marx, Dreyer, Etze­beth, de Jager, Kolisi, du Toit, F Louw. Re­place­ments: Rale­pelle, Nyakane, W Louw, Mostert, du Preez, Paige, Pol­lard, de Al­lende. NEW ZEALAND: McKen­zie, Mil­ner-Skud­der, Crotty, Wil­liams, R Ioane, B Bar­rett, A Smith, Hames, Coles, Laulala, White­lock, S Bar­rett, Squire, Cane, Read. Re­place­ments: Tay­lor, Crock­ett, Tu’un­gafasi, Tuip­u­lotu, Todd, Kerr-Barlow, Sopoaga, Hav­ili. REF­EREE: Jérôme Gar­cès (Fra)

100 PER CENT: Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane cel­e­brate New Zealand ‘s Cham­pi­onship

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