Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 36-34 Rugby Championship win over the All Blacks in Wellington:
1. It’s the final score that matters!
Statistics derived post-game reveal that the All Blacks completely dominated proceedings.
The hosts enjoyed over 75% possession, they outscored the Boks (6 tries to 5), gained 624m on attack compared to 258m, made 215 carries against 59, had 19 clean breaks compared to 9 and completed 257 passes to South Africa’s 64.
As such, the Springboks were forced to make a whopping 235 tackles, while the hosts were asked to make a meagre 61.
Yet, somehow, the visitors eked out a two-point victory.
The Boks were clinical in taking the few opportunities that came their way and defended like Trojans in what will surely go down as one of the great upsets in rugby union history.
2. South Africa’s highest score in New Zealand
What a difference a year makes! Last year, the Springboks suffered their heaviest ever defeat when they went down 57-0 to the All Blacks in Albany.
It was another dark day (and there have been quite a few in recent times) in the history of Springbok rugby.
However, a year later the tables were turned in spectacular fashion.
For the Boks to have won, some sort of record had to be established and they did just that.
South Africa’s 36 points was the most they have ever scored in a single game against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Their previous highest points tally came in 1997 when Carel du Plessis’ Boks scored 35 points in a 20-point defeat.
3. (Some) Kiwis should stop moaning
As has become customary the odd time they lose, New Zealanders are prone to blame the referee.
After Saturday’s upset, the New Zealand Herald published a story with a headline: How referee Nigel Owens' missed call killed the All Blacks
It made headlines on social media, with the publication stating that the Welsh referee did not react when advised by an assistant referee in the dying minutes of the game that two Springboks were offside in front of the posts.
Credit should however be given to All Black coach Steve Hansen who afterwards refused to blame the referee for his side’s loss.
"We lost the game because we allowed South Africa to score 36 points and that's something that we can control as a team. It's a team game," Hansen said.
Hansen and his players took the defeat on the chin, unfortunately the same could not be said for some members of the New Zealand media.
The Kiwis can only blame themselves for this loss, in fact I felt Owens was particularly harsh in penalising the Springboks at times.
The penalty count read 10-3 in favour of New Zealand and one incident in particular where I felt Owens had erred was just before Bok fullback Willie le Roux was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Just before Le Roux’s indiscretion, replays show All Black captain Kieran Read illegally take out Bok replacement flank Francois Louw at a ruck.
Read clearly entered the ruck from the side and used his shoulder to barge into Louw’s head. It happened right in front of Owens, who somehow turned a blind eye.
Read should have been penalised and Le Roux would never have been sent off.
@SFitzpatrick92 @BrianODriscoll @skalabrak @roblouw6 Just before Willie got a yellow, Kieran did this, right in front of Nigel Owens. No arms shoulder to head, from side, over top, what else? pic.twitter.com/WXT0i1dP0K— Cutmaker (@cutmaker) September 16, 2018
4. Pieter-Steph’s tears
Pieter-Steph du Toit, playing out of position in the No 7 jersey, produced another monumental performance and was my man-of-the-match.
But a moment that will live on in Springbok rugby folklore was seeing Du Toit in tears straight after the final whistle.
Du Toit’s work-rate was second to none on Saturday and he made close to 30 tackles, not to mention a few sturdy carries as well.
An example of Du Toit’s commitment and impeccable work rate can be seen in the video clip below where he runs 60m to make a try saving tackle in the first half.
Pieter-Steph du Toit's work rate is something to behold. Watch the distance he travels (7 jersey) from a ruck in NZ's half to make a try-saving tackle on our own line. Inspirational. pic.twitter.com/DZWtWX84Do— Joshua Brown (@BalcombBrown) September 16, 2018
5. Pollard a future No 12?
Handre Pollard moved to inside centre in the 48th minute, with Elton Jantjies slotting in at flyhalf when Damian de Allende was substituted.
Jantjies and Pollard seemed to work well as a 10-12 combo and we may see more of this in future.
At inside centre, Pollard gives the Boks an additional kicking option and his solid defence and ability to attack the gain line could prove handy.
It was also welcome to see Pollard perform better off the tee as it proved the different between victory and defeat on Saturday, with All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett missing four of six attempts at goal.