Campbell Burnes: All Blacks spoilt for choice in record win over South Africa

By Campbell Burnes

All Blacks 57 South Africa 15
New Zealand's Anton Lienert-Brown, left, avoids a tackle by South Africa's Faf de Klerk, during the rugby championship match between South Africa and New Zealand. Photo/ AP.
New Zealand's Anton Lienert-Brown, left, avoids a tackle by South Africa's Faf de Klerk, during the rugby championship match between South Africa and New Zealand. Photo/ AP.

The All Blacks received confirmation of what they already knew: they have at least three players who can start, and be effective, in the No 7 jersey.

The No 1 ranked Sam Cane is due back in a few weeks from his injury, but they lose little with a one-two punch of Matt Todd and Ardie Savea.

Todd played 55, mostly very good, minutes, before ceding to Savea. It was just his first test start, three years in the making, and fifth in all. He surprised no one with his quality, despite the fact he did not stand out in the stats. The Crusader just does not play a bad game, at any level.

Aside from conceding an early breakdown penalty and losing the handle close to the line just before he was subbed, for which the sceptics will pan him, Todd was an effective link man and industrious with his defence and work-rate. He had three key touches before Israel Dagg's first try, two with his passing and one carry.

He did not overplay his hand at the breakdown, though his expected fetching tussle with Francois Louw never really materialised as the Boks No 6 departed early with injury.

But Todd clearly relished playing under the 'old' breakdown laws, which allow him to jackle and make a nuisance of himself in the rucks. He had said as much during the week. The new rules, being adopted in the Mitre 10 Cup, do not suit his game, but it won't matter as they will surely be binned, or at least modified in the future and will not be used in Super Rugby 2017.

Todd's endeavour in Durban helped pave the way for the All Blacks to unleash a final quarter onslaught against the Boks that has rarely been seen in the Republic.

He wasn't the only Cantabrian to shine with Ryan Crotty, Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read all putting in good shifts in the record-breaking 57-15 victory over a limited and demoralised Boks.

Of the other All Blacks introduced for this test match, Waisake Naholo, in his first start for some time, showed he remains a threat with the ball, and even showed he can kick when needed for a clearance. Naholo has come a long way from the naïve, almost diffident young man who floundered with the Blues in 2013.

The only disappointment was that play did not flow for centre George Moala, who entered the fray at 65 minutes. He hardly received the ball, strange when the All Blacks were rampant by then. Yet it is an indication of how much they were all over the home side that the All Blacks felt entirely comfortable in replacing their senior midfielder, Crotty, and pushing Anton Lienert-Brown, who was again excellent, into second five.

- NZ Herald

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