Boks crash yet again

Spring­boks snatch de­feat from the jaws of vic­tory as All Blacks fin­ish the stronger side

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF at Emi­rates Park dan.retief@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @retief­dan

All Black cap­tain Richie McCaw signed off a chap­ter of his great ca­reer by lead­ing his side to a hard­fought vic­tory in Johannesburg last night. In what will prob­a­bly be McCaw’s last ap­pear­ance in South Africa, he scored the win­ning try in the 75th minute to give the New Zealan­ders the lead for the first time in an ex­cit­ing time.

For the sec­ond time in this year’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship, the Spring­boks had vic­tory snatched from their grasp in the dy­ing mo­ments af­ter hav­ing held the up­per hand for most of the game.

With a fin­ger-numb­ing breeze more rem­i­nis­cent of the is­lands of New Zealand caus­ing a marked drop in tem­per­a­ture, it was iron­i­cally the Spring­boks who made the strong­est start.

Stung by pre­dic­tions that they were the un­der­dogs, Schalk Burger’s men flew into the All Blacks and showed a heart­en­ing as­pi­ra­tion to move the ball wide and fast.

And it was the new cap­tain, South Africa’s 55th, who made the key play when the Boks scored the first try af­ter a penalty by Lima Sopoanga caused the Ki­wis to draw first blood.

The high kick from the base of the for­wards, which is such a sta­ple of the Spring­boks, for once worked as the All Blacks were caught in pos­ses­sion.

When the ball came back, Burger had po­si­tioned him­self in the line and threw a long, spin­ning pass to his left.

Bryan Ha­bana was the re­ceiver and the winger im­me­di­ately fed the ball back in-field.

Wil­lie le Roux picked the per­fect line to cut through and score.

The Spring­boks seemed to have been given the li­cence to run and fly­half Pol­lard again looked the player he was when South Africa beat the All Blacks at the same venue last year – tak­ing the ball flat and spin­ning it to his back­line.

The first half ab­so­lutely be­longed to the Spring­boks, but for the score­line.

It is said the All Blacks are most dan­ger­ous just be­fore the half-time break and the Boks al­lowed them­selves to be hood­winked by their de­ter­mi­na­tion to score.

Strong runs by Sopoanga and Ma’a Nonu and good link­ing by Aaron Smith made the in­cur­sion and Ben Smith ran in the try.

It had been cut-and-thrust in the first half, but right af­ter the break the Spring­boks’ new young star Jesse Kriel cut back dev­as­tat­ingly off a short pass from Pol­lard and went clean through to the line.

This try re­stored the Boks’ lead, 17-10, but al­most from the kick-off All Blacks hooker Dane Coles prised open the poor Bok de­fence and it was back to level-peg­ging.

The game was start­ing to open up and the match of­fi­cials drew the ire of the crowd in the 55th minute when the TMO de­nied Lood de Jager a try re­mark­able sim­i­lar to one the awarded against the Boks in Bris­bane the pre­vi­ous week.

The Boks were hard on at­tack, how­ever, and Pol­lard re­stored their lead with a penalty.

How­ever, the All Blacks are known for fin­ish­ing strongly and a clever li­ne­out ploy gave McCaw the open­ing to charge over for the win­ning try.

PHOTO: ASH­LEY VLOTMAN/GALLO IM­AGES

HUS­TLED Sprin­bok Han­dre Pol­lard is tack­led by New Zealand’s for­wards dur­ing The Castle Lager Rugby Cham­pi­onship match at the Emi­rates Air­line Park yesterday

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