SteemSports Presenter: @mojorisin
South Africa hosted New Zealand in the final round of the Rugby Championship at Newlands Cape Town tonight. It was an explosive encounter between the two rugby giants, but ultimately World Champions All Blacks prevailed 25-24.
It was a much improved performance from South Africa, however. Coming only a few weeks after their 57-0 drubbing in New Zealand, nobody gave them a hope of pulling off a win and handing out a first defeat for the All Blacks of the 2017 Championship.
All Blacks perform the Hakka
These two have had some epic matches in days gone by and this one turned out to be just that. Elton Jantjies and Beauden Barrett traded early penalties to make it 3-3 before New Zealand scored the first try to make it 8-3.
All Blacks went ahead when Beauden Barrett charged the ball down. He chased it on before hacking it forward, and Jesse Kriel scrambled for the ball but fumbled it and Ryan Crotty was there to touch the ball down to put the All Blacks ahead.
Ryan Crotty celebrates after putting All Blacks ahead
It was a very tense first half and there were few chances for both teams. The All Blacks were fluent with the ball but made fundamental mistakes in the final 22 on few occassions, but credit has to goto the Springboks physicality.
They weren't without their own chances, however. Twice South Africa kicked to touch after the half-time hooter, the new laws allowing them to take the lineout, which led to the game clock hitting 50 minutes before the first half came to an end.
After the pulsating first half, the question was whether South Africa could keep it going. Their response was like the Springboks of old.
A smart line out move opened up space for Malcom Marx to ramapage towards the tryline, but he was unlucky not to get over, but Ross Cronje finished off a nice move just under the posts. Elton Jantjies put the conversion over to make it 10-8 the South Africa
Springboks celebrate a try
Were the Springboks about to do the unthinkable?
They didn't help themselves. All the All Blacks need is a sniff and when a shoveled pass went forward off Courtnall Skosan, Ioane intercepted and ran the full length of the pitch to score and put the All Blacks back in front.
South Africa weren't finished though. Handre Pollard offloaded to Marx, who then drove forward and put an inside pass to Jean-Luc du Preez who put the ball down to make it 15-15. And when Pollard added the conversion, it seemed like South Africa's recent awful record was going to be forgotten.
Allister Coetz and Malcom Marx
But there's nobody better under pressure than the All Blacks. David Havili undid the Boks and released McKenzie who carved up the Boks defence to put the All Blacks back in front 22-17 after the conversion.
A late red card for South Africa meant they had to play with 14 for the final 5 minutes. And when Lima Sopoaga put the penalty over to make it 25-17, it seemed impossible for 14 man Springboks.
A late Mckenzie try proved the difference
They'd worked incredibly hard all game and were deserved try scorers to bring the game back to one point, as Malcom Marx surged over the line. But it was too little too late, as the All Blacks held on to win 25-24.
So New Zealand win the Rugby Championship yet again, and were by far the most dominant team. As for South Africa, notwithstanding the 57-0 drubbing, it was a much improved championship for Allister Coetzee's men, and they can go into the Autumn Internationals with some renewed confidence. As for the All Blacks, they just ooze confidence.