All Blacks show their true class to destroy Boks
Record score as New Zealand finally find best form
The All Blacks produced their best display of the year to trounce South Africa by a record 57-0 and take a firm grip on the Rugby Championship in Auckland.
The eight-try victory surpassed the All Blacks’ previous best 5715 win in Durban last year and it was South Africa’s heaviest defeat, eclipsing their 53-3 loss to England at Twickenham in 2002.
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.
“We came in tonight pretty clear about how we wanted to play and what we wanted to achieve and a lot of those things came off,” coach Steve Hansen said.
“We started a bit jittery. There was a lot of dropped ball or bobble ball, but once we got in to the rhythm of the game I thought we played probably as good as we’ve played for a long time.”
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 Rugby World Cup, and left Springbok coach Allister Coetzee distraught.
“I won’t say it was a horror movie but...” he said, searching for words to describe his disappointment.
“We played our best rugby in those (first) 20 minutes. Ball in hand we felt on top and we dominated collisions and then one pass goes astray and you’re under the posts.
“I’m obviously very disappointed and the players are hurting, and it’s definitely not through lack of effort. Passages of great defence, passages of great attack but we couldn’t break them. They were too good.”
The Boks opened with a typically physical start in which they bossed the All Blacks for the first 15 minutes, until in the space of four minutes NZ 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 from Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick in the countdown to halftime 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 SA with only away matches against Argentina and the Boks remaining.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, the opening stanza belonged to South Africa when Eben Etzebeth, Jean-Luc du 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 NZ 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 Barrett to beat the cover defence.
South Africa continued to defend resolutely but they just could not keep the rampant All Blacks out.
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