All Blacks thrash Springboks by record 57-0
AUCKLAND: The All Blacks produced their best display of the year to trounce South Africa by a record 57-0 to take a firm grip on the Rugby Championship in Auckland on Saturday.
The eight-try victory eclipsed the previous best 57-15 victory in Durban last year.
It was only the fifth time in the 94-Test history between the fierce rivals that the Springboks have been kept scoreless.
With the backline standing slightly deeper than they have in recent weeks, the All Blacks eliminated many of the handling errors that had been plaguing them.
It was a performance that showed when the All Blacks click there is a huge gulf between the first and third ranked sides two years out from the next World Cup.
The Springboks opened with a typically physical start in which they bossed the All Blacks for the first quarter hour, until in the space of four minutes the New Zealanders turned the game with back-to-back tries by Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner Skudder.
With forwards running like backs, the All Blacks added further tries by Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick in the countdown to half-time to turn with a 31-0 lead.
Milner-Skudder, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Lima Sopoaga and Codie Taylor scored in the second half.
The win kept the All Blacks unbeaten after four rounds of the Rugby Championship and lifted them eight points clear of South Africa with only away matches against Argentina and the Springboks remaining.
Despite the lop-sided scoreline, the opening stanza belonged to South Africa when Eben Etzebeth, Jean-Luc de Preez and Uzair Cassiem led a muscular approach.
They won penalties off the first two scrums, stole the All Blacks’ first line out and drove through holes close to the ruck.
But their dominance was hindered by a succession of handling errors and a chance to put points on the board via a penalty by the usually reliable Elton Jantjies fell short.
Instead, it was the All Blacks who scored first from a Beauden Barrett penalty, the first of eight successful shots at goal as the fly-half rediscovered the kicking radar that abandoned him last week against Argentina.
Then came the tries as the All Blacks responded with lineout steals and scrum penalties of their own.
Aaron Smith took a quick penalty on halfway and chipped the ball towards the corner with Ioane winning the race for the ball.
Milner-Skudder’s first try came from his intercept in New Zealand territory and he finished off the move after some classy interplay with Beauden Barrett to beat the cover defence.
As the All Blacks dug further into their bag of tricks, hooker Dane Coles leaped high to tap a Beauden Barrett cross kick into the arms of replacement flanker Scott Barrett who scored the third try.
Coles was on hand again to play the link man between Ioane and Retallick.
The Springboks started the second half strongly but once the initial drive wore off the All Blacks returned to their tryscoring ways, bringing up the record with Taylor’s try from a lineout drive on full-time. AFP