Awesome All Blacks finally show the world how good they truly can be
The All Blacks appeared to be teetering. After a far from convincing Lions series, they had to come from behind in the final two minutes to sneak home against the Wallabies in Dunedin and the following week trailed 22-15 to Argentina in New Plymouth with 30 minutes to play.
With a 2017 home record that read W,L,D,W,W you could be forgiven for thinking their aura was starting to dim.
You could also be forgiven for thinking the Springboks had some chance. After all they were unbeaten in six matches, seemed to have turned around their woes of last year, and were unlucky themselves not to beat the Wallabies in Perth.
When South Africa suffered three big injury blows in the week leading up to the match – prop Coenie Oosthuizen, flanker Jaco Kriel and scrum-half Ross Cronje – the chances of the Boks’ first win in New Zealand since 2009 had started to lengthen.
But still you thought it would be close – as so many SA v NZ matches are – with maybe the ABs running away in the last 20 minutes. No one saw this coming. The All Blacks dominated from start to finish, dishing out a record 57-0, eight-try shellacking that wiped away the 53-3 loss to England at Twickenham in 2002, to become this proud rugby nation’s biggest-ever defeat.
We all know the All Blacks have the most deadly attack in world rugby – one mistake and they will pounce, no matter where they are on the field. A few quick passes and they are under the posts at the other end.
They did that time and again in Albany, with Aaron Smith’s delightful grubber for Rieko Ioane and Beauden Barrett’s outrageous reverse flick to Nehe MilnerSkudder just a couple of snippets for the highlights reel.
But it was not the attack that was so impressive – it was the defence.
It’s hard to remember a more committed, organised and consistent New Zealand defensive effort. Time and time again the Boks pounded the All Blacks line and time and time again they were repelled with ferocious tackling from the black wall.
This was not the same NZ side that gave up four tries in Sydney to the Wallabies, or five tries to the same opponent in Dunedin. Or even the same one who conceded a softy to give the Pumas the lead.
This was a team that was tenacious, determined not to let anyone across their line even if they had scored 100 points, which they would have if the game had continued.
South Africa had 44 per cent of the ball, 47 per cent of the territory, made 94 runs for 514 metres and even three line-breaks but they still never even remotely looked like scoring, so comprehensive was the All Blacks’ defensive effort.
In the end it comes down to respect. The All Blacks would never say it out loud but they do not rate the Wallabies in the slightest, hence the near upset in Dunedin.
They also know the Pumas will try hard but will never beat them.
But the Boks are different. The great teams play their best against their biggest opponents – and this was the case in Albany.
NZ were simply breathtaking. The Boks didn’t actually play badly and they still lost 57-0. But this All Blacks side would have beaten anyone in the world by 30 points.
There is only one side on earth that can challenge the All Blacks if they play like this – England – and this was a performance to even make Fast Eddie tremble a little in his sneakers.
South Africa had 44 per cent of the ball, 47 per cent of the territory, made 94 runs for 514 metres and even three line-breaks but they still never even remotely looked like scoring