The Springboks Are The Best Rugby Side On The Planet!
The Springboks beat the All Blacks 32-29 in their Tri-nations clash in Hamilton.
It was a deserved victory for a champion Springbok side, which was very focused on their task all week. Even a large number of injuries couldn't prevent the Boks from producing an enormous performance from a dedicated squad, who underlined the strength that currently exists in South African rugby.
To win the third game on tour was a remarkable effort. Even more remarkable given that last year no Tri-nations side won their third consecutive game. Doubly more remarkable when you take into account the Springboks have done it twice this year, and are always tasked with the hardest draw where they have to play three consecutive weeks twice in the competition to the others side once.
It was the result of hard work, and dedication.
Once again the Springboks went behind, this time to a very dubious penalty in the first minute of the game from the kick-off. This season I've been so impressed by how the Springboks bounce back. This was epitomised by losing Springbok strongman, Juan Smith just before kick-off.
After the early Dan Carter penalty, the Springboks started to find their feet. Initially they took the ball through numerous phases and showed they possess more skills that just being able to kick. Francois Steyn knocked over a 61m penalty. It's the biggest kick I've ever seen other than Percy Montgomery's 63m drop kick at Kimberly. That was at altitude, this was at sea level in New Zealand.
Another Francois Steyn penalty had the Boks in front.
John Smit was penalised for slipping in the first scrum. That's a harsh call in my view, and Carter levelled the scores.
The Boks then worked the phases beautifully while Morne Steyn positioned himself in the pocket for a brilliant drop goal.
Fourie du Preez, who had a great game around the rucks and mauls put up a beautiful up and under that got the Boks going forward, and du Preez then ducked over from a ruck to score the first try.
Once again the Boks were penalised almost immediately and Carter's penalties were keeping the All Blacks in the game.
I felt the Boks weren't getting much help from the ref, but a Kieran Read shoulder charge off the ball brought another penalty. I question why there wasn't a warning if not a yellow card.
Pressure from the All Blacks just before half-time was met by determined Springbok defence that gave the Boks a 10 point lead at the break.
At the beginning of the second half the Boks once again started off well and had chances they didn't take. Accidental offside from a ruck a few metres out from the All Black line helped the All Blacks survive.
After 11 minutes an intercept try to Jean de Villiers gave the Boks a 17 point lead. Last week in Brisbane, Jean mentioned to us that he hadn't scored an intercept for a while, and would be happy with any try. I know how hard he works on reading the play, so it was particularly pleasing to see him get rewarded.
At this stage I believed the Springboks became a touch complacent and the All Blacks became more desperate to avoid humiliation. Along with the effects of three tough weeks, the All Blacks started to get on the front foot and the Boks were doing a lot of defending.
It was energy sapping stuff, and the Boks weren't getting many calls from the ref.
With 18 minutes to go, the All Blacks had a penalty right in front and were 10 points behind. I believe Richie McCaw made the wrong decision in going for the scrum. They scored a penalty soon after but the Boks were getting closer to victory.
With eight and a half minutes to go the Boks got another penalty and a 10 point lead was very handy. Earlier this week John Smit told us at a press conference that he liked to be at least one score ahead going into the last 20.
It's the Boks pattern, and from in front they controlled proceedings, even though an All Black try with a few minutes to go left Springbok supporters sweating out the final few minutes.
It was a great victory for the side, with each player's performances vital in producing a great team effort.
This is a great moment for South African rugby.
The Springboks are World Champions.
The Springboks are the IRB No. 1 ranked side.
The Springboks are Tri-nations champions.
The Springboks beat the British and Irish Lions.
The Springboks hold the Freedom Cup (played between South Africa and New Zealand)
The Springboks hold the Mandela plate (played between South Africa and Australia)
The Springbok sevens hold the IRB World sevens title.
The Bulls are Super 14 Champions.
This is glory.
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