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How South Africa beat the New Zealand All Blacks in the Rugby Championship opener


New Zealand were handled by South Africa in a 26-10 win in the 2022 Rugby Championship opener. For the fourth time in punting history, the All Blacks entered the underdog by about 3 points, but until late in the game it looked like 3 points would be all they would score.

The Springboks brought a power play and didn’t miss a beat despite losing starting nine Faf de Klerk in the first minute after trying to bend Caleb Clark’s colossal knee.

We can say that Jaden Hendrickse then dominated the best scrum half of the last ten years: Aaron Smith.

Smith was not to blame. The All Blacks lost the scrum (4-1 on penalties, with Angus Gardner in no mood to forgive slips and lost links). This kept them trapped in their own half in the first half. Frans Malherbe continued his tight-headed winning record, posting a career plus-34 differential in penalties won/lost.

The visitors also lost the breakdown, with Malcolm Marx at 50 caps dominating, but supported by Lukhanyo Am, a lively Pieter-Steph du Toit, and a massive cleanup by the locks who dominated the pitch: Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager.

The match was almost already lost before deep into the second half the All Blacks had gained enough ground to build red zone phases. The Boks played old school rugby in Mbombela, tough and direct and strong.

Lukhanyo Am of South Africa during the Rugby League match between South Africa and New Zealand. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Handre Pollard and Hendrickse thought the Kiwi kickers appeared to find the Bok three times in space, from where Damian Willemse easily replaced the choked All Blacks in their own half. Against a frantic Bok high line, with defenders behind the line looking for loose balls and passes, the All Blacks simply couldn’t throw from deep except for a break or two. Boks lace tackles or cover rush saved the day until one man went down, Caleb Clarke finally closed in and a new Shannon Frizzell was rewarded for her pursuit.

It was a draw. It was a scorpion, dangerous, but bottled, and never released.

The All Blacks simply needed more Ardie Saveas. The overhangs seemed unnecessary in the green wall.

But the most impressive advantage, besides Bok’s front row (4-0 on penalties), was the aerial battle. The All Blacks named Clarke against little Kurt-Lee Arendse but the KLA were on fire, taking clever angles around the All Black shepherds and high ball keepers. At the last count, the sky went the Boks way 8-2.

The first very bad defeat led to a brilliant try from Bok, with Am adept at finding the remains and feeding an Arendse who had beaten a shocked 6ft5 Jordie Barrett through the air.

The outings were poor by the All Blacks, they lost the aerial battle the whole game, their haka was unconvincing and Ellis Park is higher, bigger and stronger.

The Bok defense is very, very high and making crazy inroads (PDST, Marx, the nines and Etzebeth all have the right to come out of the defensive line).

Barrett doesn’t look as comfortable as Mo’unga with this setup, but to be fair his midfield was poorly dominated by de Allende and Am, so Barrett was tempted to join Savea in the heroball.

The positives: Jason Ryan’s maul defense was better, until the second half when the All Blacks seemed to tire more than the Boks, which boded ill for next week.

The biggest problems are these:

1. How can New Zealand cross the winning line?
2. What are their two best melee accessories?
3. How can they hold good territory if they don’t know the answers to 1 and 2?
4. Why are there so few variations in reboots?
5. Who can bring more speed and bulk power to help Savea?
6. Does Cane play well enough to justify his place?
7. Who can bring back a calm emergency?

It was fitting and quite enjoyable to see Willemse, who has now replaced his mentor, and beloved teammate Willie le Roux celebrate with pure joy as ‘Spiders’ pounce on another loose All Black pass to score close. poles and be hugged by a nation.

26-10 seems about right, but 19-3 would have been just fine. It was a suffocation.

From the Irish series, the All Blacks made changes but it made no difference.

Marx loves playing the All Blacks. His 4.5 turnovers, hard carries, big tackles and accurate throws were huge.

It was an impressive performance from the Boks. Not as pretty or uplifting or Michelin starred as the Irish, but a great braai of juicy meat and brandy.

The oddly offbeat All Blacks are continuing a poor season (for their standards) and perhaps even more so than against the Irish, just don’t seem to get into the game.

Nothing seemed to work except the line broke 50-50 silver balls. Bok’s tacklers supported New Zealand and went deep – not just getting up and back in line.

After the game, the always honest Cane admitted: “We absorbed it in the first half, but it cost us a lot. The kicking game, the contestants, they probably won that too. And the breakdown.

In a test against the Boks, that’s usually all it takes to lose.

Direction Johannesburg.




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