A late Jordie Barrett penalty yesterday saw New Zealand clinch the Rugby Championship with an “ugly” 19-17 victory over South Africa in the 100th Test between the teams.
In a tough game with a high error count in Townsville, the All Blacks led 13-11 at halftime and both sides traded penalties through the second period until Barrett landed the killer blow from 43m with two minutes remaining.
It gave the unbeaten All Blacks an unassailable lead in the Rugby Championship with one round remaining.
“If ever you’re going to take an ugly win, we’ll take that,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster said. “Clearly it was going to be a big arm wrestle. We tried to break it open, but couldn’t. It wasn’t pretty but I loved the attitude at the end.”
The powerful Springboks pack won a remarkable 13 turnovers, only to see the ball kicked away most of the time.
Foster said that the All Blacks needed to get better at handling that style of play.
“It’s one thing to dismiss it as boring, which a lot of people do, but it’s ruthless and clinical, and they are very good at it,” he said. “We ran out of time in many situations and that put our skill-set under pressure, so there’s a real learning curve for us.”
The showdown had been a long time in the making — 100 years since two of the world’s great rivals first faced off and two years since they clashed at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The world champion Springboks went into the game on the back of stinging criticism from coach Jacques Nienaber, who demanded improvement after back-to-back losses to Australia.
He declared himself satisfied with the response as the boot of Handre Pollard had them in sight of victory before Barrett stepped up to seal the outcome.
“The game plan worked. I thought we had opportunities, they had opportunities, it came down to the wire,” Nienaber said. “A call here, a bounce of the ball there and sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it goes against you.”
Of the 100 Tests between New Zealand and South Africa, the All Blacks have now won 60, South Africa 36 and four have been drawn.
In a seesaw first half it was a try apiece within the opening five minutes, before the Springboks pulled ahead with two penalties, only for the All Blacks to land two of their own late in the half to regain the lead.
As much as the All Blacks created opportunities and punched holes through the Springboks defensive line, they suffered through poor finishing and ill-discipline.
Before a near-capacity crowd of 25,000 people at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, a Codie Taylor break paved the way for Will Jordan to score the opening try, with Jordie Barrett landing the conversion to have the All Blacks ahead 7 -0.
Almost immediately the Springboks replied when George Bridge misjudged a high kick from Faf de Klerk and Sbu Nkosi snapped up the ball to score.
The normally reliable Pollard missed the conversion, but banged over two penalties soon after to put the Springboks ahead 11-7.
While Bridge was having problems dealing with the high ball on the left wing, the Springboks inexplicably turned their attention to fullback Jordie Barrett, who remained unflappable under a succession of bombs and was willing to ignite a counterattack.
He also landed two penalties late in the half, the second when Nkosi was yellow-carded for a deliberate knockdown when the All Blacks were attacking the line.
At the start of the second half the All Blacks twice turned down close-range shots at goal in favor of a lineout drive and both times came up short.
Instead it was the Springboks who scored through a third Pollard penalty.
From there to the final whistle the All Blacks played attacking rugby without reward, leaving Pollard and Barrett to trade penalties.
In the second game at the same Queensland Country Bank Stadium yesterday, Australia kept Argentina winless with a 27-8 victory.
Australia scored three converted tries and two penalties to Argentina’s one unconverted try and one penalty.
Additional reporting by staff writer
It is the world’s longest certified foot race: a 4,989km run that takes participants around the same New York block 5,649 times. Thousands of people have climbed Everest — but just 49 have completed the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race, organizers say. Runners finish more than two marathons a day for almost two months, on less than five hours of sleep a night. They cannot rely on changing scenery to keep them motivated as the route is a 883m loop on a concrete sidewalk around a high school in Jamaica, Queens. To mix things up a bit, they alternate between running clockwise
Sean Wainui, a rising star of Super Rugby with the Hamilton, New Zealand-based Chiefs, died yesterday in an automobile accident. He was 25 and the father of two children. His death was confirmed by family members and by New Zealand Rugby, which said “one of New Zealand Rugby’s tallest Totara trees has fallen.” Wainui played 44 matches for the Chiefs from 2018. He also played nine times for the Christchurch-based Crusaders and was a New Zealand Maori representative from 2015. Wainui scored five tries for the Chiefs against the New South Wales Waratahs in June, a Super Rugby record. Police said they were notified
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter on Friday posted a new video denouncing China’s human rights record regarding Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The video came two days after Kanter, who has a history of speaking out against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of his native Turkey, condemned the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Tibet in a similar video, prompting a backlash in China. “Heartless Dictator of China, XI JINPING and the Communist Party of China. I am calling you out in front of the whole world. Close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people!” Kanter wrote on Twitter. “Stop the
‘NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE’: Spain’s Paula Badosa joined Bianca Andreescu in 2019 and Serena Williams in 1999 in winning the title on her first appearance A handful of tennis’ superstars skipped the COVID-19 pandemic-delayed BNP Paribas Open. A rash of upsets sent other big names packing, too. Left standing at the end as champions were two players ranked outside the top 25. Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Sunday beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, giving the tournament its first men’s winner ranked outside of the top 25 since 2010. Paula Badosa of Spain edged Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), becoming just the third woman to win on her Indian Wells debut. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams were among those skipping the