The Springboks produced a predictable but clinical 31-19 demolition of the All Blacks in Durban.
The Springbok forward display was once again magnificent, as the All Blacks couldn't find an answer to the rampant Springbok pack. The Springboks reinforced their No. 1 ranking, and now need to put away the Wallabies in Cape Town to gain a firm grip on the Tri-nations for 2009.
The match started off with the bizarre occurrence of the home team having the South African national anthem played before the visitors New Zealand national anthem. However, from then on, proceedings returned to familiarity—with the Springbok pack continuing its domination over the All Blacks.
The All Blacks scored a try against the run of play. Early on, they edged out to a 10-3 lead; however, this Springbok side has exhibited great composure, and stuck to their game plan. Slowly but surely, territory and possession started to tell.
The inevitable penalties started to come, and Morne Steyn was very reliable in knocking them over.
The yellow carding of JP Pietersen was soon negated with the yellow card to Issac Ross, and the Springboks responded with a try to Morne Steyn. Continuous pressure in All Black territory allowed Fourie du Preez to steal a ball from the All Black scrum, and he put Morne Steyn in for the try superbly.
Once the Springboks got in front, they were going to be extremely hard to stop. One could sense the pressure start to get to the All Blacks, and the became even more erratic.
A halftime lead of nine points was a mountain to climb for the All Blacks. Whenever they were able to get the lead back to less than seven, the Springboks would hit back straight away.
Even the yellow card handed to Bakkies Botha in the second half wasn't enough for the All Blacks to capitalise on. Instead, the Springbok pack took it up a gear, ensuring they didn't lose a scrum or suffer the effects of playing with 14 men.
In the end it was a clinical victory, built on the same platform as Game One in Bloemfontein.
The Springboks highlighted areas of improvement needed for the All Blacks, but knowing what they are and fixing them are entirely different matters.
The Springboks once again were strong in the set pieces and breakdown. The All Blacks simply had no answer to the pressure and resorted to giving away penalties.
I felt the All Blacks were lucky to get away with killing the ball/diving over far too often as they sought to stop the Springbok machine rumbling ahead.
Peter de Villiers has probably done enough to keep his detractors away for the rest of the season, but for Graham Henry, it will now intensify from the New Zealand public.
The All Blacks game plan seemed to be to run everything, regardless of field position, and at times they resorted to idiotic tactics. Rokocoko tried to run the ball out from his own in-goal, Weepu threw it out over his own in-goal, the All Blacks tried to run it from their own goal line at times—it was stupid stuff.
It played into the Springbok hands, and if there is one area the Boks need to work on, it is scoring a few more tries. The Springboks had numerous 5m scrums to score from, and plenty of field position near the All Black goal line.
They often emerged with penalty goals, but they'll be disappointed they weren't able to cross the try line more than once.
The fact that the All Black coaching staff were not prepared to admit they got their tactics wrong is worrying for New Zealand rugby. I truly feel their coaching staff is inadequate, but as a Springbok fan, I'll hardly lose any sleep over it.
The Springboks now move to Cape Town in a must-win game that sets them up to challenge strongly for the Tri-nations title. They have shown how hard it should be for visiting teams so far, but it will all count for nothing if they lose to Australia.
Whilst it is always tough to play three weeks in a row, the Wallabies don't have the forward pack to match the Springboks. A continuation of their current form will see the Springboks secure victory fairly easily.
The Wallabies also don't have the same firepower out wide that the All Blacks exhibit, so we should be able to overcome them with our pack, and kick our way to victory once more...