ABs batter the Boks

By Wynne Gray at Eden Park

Aaron Smith of the All Blacks performs the haka before the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springboks. Photo / Getty Images.
Aaron Smith of the All Blacks performs the haka before the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South African Springboks. Photo / Getty Images.

All Blacks 29
South Africa 15

The All Blacks lost star five eighths Daniel Carter to injury but extended their unbeaten sequence at Eden Park tonight as they held out a belligerent Springbok inquisition 29-15.

The visitors were inhibited when hooker Bismarck du Plessis was sent off for his second yellow card soon after the second half restart.

His second offence, an elbow to Liam Messam's throat, was dangerous but on most of the evidence including the TMO judgment on his first tackling offence, du Plessis was unlucky.

Beauden Barrett was sharp in his replacement five eighths duties, kicking with aplomb as he guided the All Blacks around the park and nailed all his organization duties.

There was no slip in the All Blacks rhythm which was a remarkable tribute to Barrett's skills and his team's fortune in having three world class five eighths.

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Victory continued the All Blacks unbeaten sequence this season and a handy gap on the Springboks in the chase for the Rugby Championship title.

Carter was smashed in a tackle by du Plessis and taken off with a damaged right shoulder and while the action was deemed legitimate, referee Romaine Poite, controversially, decided otherwise.

The incident provoked a lengthy melee in the 16th minute as most of the players grappled with some opponent.

There was an ominous start for the All Blacks when their lineout was picked off and they were then peeled back and penalized in the first scrum.

However it was a slick short lineout variation from Liam Messam and Owen Franks which delivered the crucial opening try to captain Kieran Read as he bashed across the line to the TMO's satisfaction.

The test was as brutal and physical as everyone expected while the scrums were a constant and frustrating mystery with few able to go the distance.

Not long after he took the field Barrett cut loose. He raced 50m past the first line of tacklers, looking for support as he held the ball out in front teasing the defenders.

From a subsequent ruck, the ball was delivered to lock Brodie Retallick who thundered 20m for his first test try.

The Boks were not conceding through. They kicked to the corner and from the lineout, who else but du Plessis would score as he emerged triumphant from the core of a driving maul.

Halftime discussion amongst the capacity crowd was mixed about the predicted outcome. There was no clear trend other than uncertainty.

Some of that doubt disappeared when du Plessis was sent off and when massive contributor Read scored his second try four minutes later, New Zealand supporters felt more confident.

There was a neat grubber from replacement fullback Charles Piutau which just evaded Julian Savea and then Savea turned provider with his grubber just eluding Read for his hat trick.

Flanker Sam Cane, bloodied and stitched after a collision with Owen Franks, hurled himself across the line to cap a series of strong raids.

The All Blacks needed that buffer as they staggered through the last 10 minutes when they lost Read and Ma'a Nonu to the sinbin for a professional foul and a late high charge.

Savea also disappeared late with concussion in what had been a brutally combative contest.

All Blacks (Kieran Read 2, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane tries; Daniel Carter con, Beauden Barrett 2 con, pen
Springboks (Bismarck du Plessis, Patrick Lambie, tries; Morne Steyn con, pen) Halftime: 17-10

- NZ Herald

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