All Blacks Steal Win In Thriller
A late flurry from the All Blacks has seen them maintain their unbeaten record in 2010. Their record seemed in jeopardy, down by five points with just three minutes to play, but tries to Richie McCaw and Israel Dagg saw the All Blacks home 29-22.
The Springboks in South Africa were always going to be a tough challenge, and given their form on the road they had been expected to lift their game. They did not disappoint offering a much more intense, passionate performance this week, driving hard into all their tackles and forcing the All Blacks onto the back foot.
The game remained in the balance during the first half, with both sides scoring a try and kicking two penalties, however the All Blacks try remained unconverted which saw the hosts take a 16-14 lead.
Two more penalties saw the Springboks extend their lead to 22-14 early in the second half.
Then came what was one of the best fight backs you'll ever see as the All Blacks lifted their game to another level, continuing to play the game at pace and looking to attack as the Boks began to tire. A Dan Carter penalty took the score to 22-17 and the All Blacks could taste victory as momentum had swung their way. What followed was sensational, culminating in a Richie McCaw try in the corner with just three minutes to play. Carter missed the kick, leaving the scores level at 22 all with time almost up.
The Springboks won the kick off, but the All Blacks, as they have done all season, showed their great counter rucking skills, pushing the Boks off it, giving them one more chance to secure what would be a famous win.
They made no mistake of it, as Ma'a Nonu broke a John Smit tackle and delivered a perfect pass to replacement wing Israel Dagg to score the winning try.
A thrilling end to a thrilling game.
The Springboks were left devastated and their lack of ability to play for 80 minutes is really starting to be exposed. However, they can take some positives out of this performance.
For one, they were much more physical up front and were on top of the All Blacks for the first 60 minutes. Big performances from Flip Van Der Merwe, Juan Smith and Schalk Burger saw that they had good go-forward ball for their backs to work with.
Jean De Villiers and Juan De Jongh showed exactly what had been missing in their midfield, defending very well as the All Blacks ran at them time and time again.
Gio Aplon looked good too, fighting well above his weight, making some good tackles and gliding through gaps in the defence.
Francois Hougaard was dangerous at halfback and was arguably the Springboks best player.
One would still have to question their tactics of kicking though. When the All Blacks have Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Joe Rokocoko and Israel Dagg in their back three, you don't want to be giving them room to run. This is exactly what you are doing by simply kicking the ball back to them every time they get it. It is becoming predictable and they need to come up with a new strategy.
For the All Blacks it was a sloppy performance but their superior fitness showed in the way that they played in the final 10 minutes.
The forward pack were pushed around in the first half, but regained their dominance in the second half. Richie McCaw was at his very best, while Brad Thorn also showed what a great player he is.
In the backs, Ma'a Nonu was outstanding, making countless breaks and throwing two passes which led to tries. Piri Weepu looked good when he came on, running well around the fringes. The back three of Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Joe Rokocoko and later Israel Dagg, all operated well, negating the effect of the Springboks kicking tactics.
The win confirms the All Blacks as 2010 Tri-Nations champions, with a total of 23 of a possible 25 competition points.
The Springboks now prepare for their final two games of the competition against Australia in the next two weeks. If they show the same intensity they showed today, they would have to be favoured to win, but as we know, anything can happen in this competition.
The All Blacks meanwhile have a two week break before heading to Sydney to play Australia in the final game of the competition.
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