Monday, October 08, 2012

Superb AllBlacks complete Championship clean sweep - (7/10/2012)

Displaying class, composure and confidence the All Blacks completed a clean sweep of the inaugural Investec Rugby Championship with a 32-16 win over South Africa in Soweto on Sunday morning (NZT).

Driven by a superb display from left-wing Hosea Gear, who had a hand in three of the first four All Blacks tries, the side overcame an indifferent first half where they were penalised seven times, and denied much of the possession to go to the break 12-16 down, and then score 20 unanswered points in the second half.

No.8 Kieran Read demonstrated why he is the world's best No.8 with a game which highlighted his ability to be in the right place at the right time, while his counterpart and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw celebrated his 100th Test victory with another outstanding display of leadership in the face of close attention from referee Alain Rolland. But it still wasn't enough to contain the belligerent flanker.

As the game opened up in the second half, first five-eighths Dan Carter moved from being the calm controller to the playmaker, even snapping over his sixth dropped goal in Tests.

The All Blacks ability to flick a switch was demonstrated at the start of the second half.

Lock Brodie Retallick took the kick-off to the half and the ball was moved through the backline where fullback Israel Dagg took the gap and linked to No.8 to Kieran Read outside him. He charged downfield and had options either side before in-passing to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu who scored 19 seconds into the half

After two strange refereeing decisions, one which saw the ball ruled out on the full from a 22m restart when the ball clearly touched Read before going out, and a penalty against McCaw as the tackler trying to extricate himself from the ruck, the All Blacks survived when Jantjies' penalty goal attempt hit the posts.

The All Blacks ran the ball back out with Gear making vital metres. Then from a scrum in the South African 22m, Gear was well positioned to take the ball and send it on for Carter to feed centre Conrad Smith into the gap and over for the bonus point try.

In the 63rd minute Carter snapped over his dropped goal to take New Zealand out to a 29-16 lead.

New Zealand had made a slow start, conceding the first seven penalties of the match in the first half, unable to secure tidy lineout ball and without possession for lmost the duration.

But at their first genuine chance, from a failed Springbok touch kick, the ball was moved wide by fullback Israel Dagg, to Carter. He found Read who got the ball to Gear. Gear got through two tackles to find Read in support and he passed to lock Sam Whitelock who raced down the sideline to score after protecting the ball well.

Then in the 33rd minute from a clean lineout take, second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu took the ball over the advantage line. From the ruck it was cleared by halfback Aaron Smith and Carter spun out of a tackle and Gear again found space and sprinted ahead to inpass to Aaron Smith who scored beneath the posts.

South Africa worked a lineout move in the 12th minute and with the ball knocked back in a transfer it was taken by second five-eighths Jean de Villiers and with space available he flung a pass across to right wing Bryan Habana. He made no mistake to run around under the posts allowing first five-eighths Johan Goosen to land his first kick of three.

Young first five-eighths Johan Goosen, who came into the game after a late injury clearance was replaced in the 35th minute by Elton Jantjies who landed two penalty goals in his five minutes on the field.

It was not the perfect performance, the first half determined that, but the second half epitomised the style of rugby the All Blacks have used to triumph in the first nine Tests of coach Steve Hansen's reign.


South Africa 16 (Bryan Habana tries; Johan Goosen con, pen; Elton Jantjies 2 pen) New Zealand 32 (Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith tries; Dan Carter 3 con, pen, dropped goal ). HT: 16-12

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