The Springboks have again spoiled the All Black party at Westpac Stadium with a dramatic converted try in the final seconds tonight following last year's upset victory.
The All Blacks had seemed set to sneak home after Richie Mo'unga's two second-half penalties added to their slim halftime lead, but the Boks shared the spoils thanks to halfback Herschel Jantjies' try confirmed by the television match official.
It was an extremely disappointing way for the All Blacks to finish a test they appeared in control of after some early difficulties. And it came at a big cost; lock Brodie Retallick leaving the field after 60 minutes with a dislocation of an arm – joint unspecified – an injury that will probably rule him out of next month's Bledisloe Cup tests and perhaps even longer, a serious concern for the All Black coaches ahead of the World Cup.
All of Retallick's teammates will feel the after effects of this test for days because it was, to put it politely, extremely challenging; the Boks defending superbly apart from a slip just before halftime and the All Blacks discovering new ways to drop the ball almost by the minute.
The visitors were sharp on attack too and while it took them late in the game to breach the defence they will take a fair bit of confidence into the first game of the World Cup against Steven Hansen's men. They've improved massively under coach Rassie Erasmus and that first pool game in Yokohama on September 21 has all the makings of a classic.
So while the All Blacks dodged a bullet against the Pumas last weekend, they couldn't this time, and it will feel like a loss. Their handling improved in the second half, with Aaron Smith, Dane Coles and Anton Lienert-Brown adding quality, but it needed to and there will be questions asked about their skill execution.
Jack Goodhue's first-half try was a rare bit of quality but there are other reasons to be cautiously positive. The Richie Mo'unga-Beauden Barrett combination appears a work in progress but the signs are positive. Another plus was midfielder Sonny Bill Williams getting through 58 minutes without appearing to hurt himself again.
The transformation of this Boks team from bumblers to a serious World Cup threat cannot be overstated and the retirement of halfback Faf de Klerk due to a head injury early in the second half was a big blow.
Initially here they looked far more comfortable on the ball than the All Blacks and their forwards in particular were making far more significant inroads than the home pack.
Their kicking game was also far better. De Klerk outplayed Aaron Smith here last year and he was again instrumental in putting the Boks on the front foot with contestable kicks that were invariably on the mark and extremely difficult for the All Blacks to deal with.
Rarely have the All Blacks dropped so much ball in the 40 minutes of a test. Coach Steve Hansen predicted a rusty performance given the new combinations and during the first 37 minutes the All Black machine appeared in danger of seizing up completely, a couple of lineout steals apart.
Rieko Ioane fluffed a couple. Joe Moody put one down just as his side appeared to be offering some continuity. Not only did it stymie the attack, it also slowed the game to a level the Boks appeared very comfortable with.
And while it was quickly evident that the All Blacks had a good numbers advantage from a scrum on their side of halfway as the clock ticked towards halftime, there was certainly no guarantee they would make anything of it going by what had gone before.
But in a sweeping move that would give the All Blacks an undeserved halftime lead, Barrett capitalised on a long pass by ghosting outside his defender and sprinting clear before putting Goodhue away near the posts. It looked like it would be the only try of the match, but Jantjies had other ideas.
All Blacks 16 (Jack Goodhue try; Beauden Barrett con, pen, Richie Mo'unga 2 pens)
South Africa 16 (Herschel Jantjies' try; Handre Pollard 3 pens, con)