By Greg Robertson
It’s a clash of the old foes as the New Zealand All Blacks take on the South Africa Springboks in Dunedin under the roof of the
South Africa aren’t the side of yesteryear but never discount a Bok with his back against the wall. The inexperience of the Boks pack will count against them. With Aaron Cruden still in for the injured Dan Carter – and a dry park – we’re expecting some open running rugby (fingers crossed) from the home side if they can do, as we expect, and dominate with the pack.
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Live commentary… FINAL All Blacks 21 Vs 11 Springboks
ALL HIGHLIGHTS UP
80 mins:All Blacks get a penalty - phew. Chance to clear after the Boks came flying at them. Cruden points to the posts instead. Off the posts... Mccaw following up and snaffles it. Hand in the ruck - Greyling again! That's the ball game and the bonus point may be gone for SA. Cruden nails it - ABs win 21-11. ALL VIDEO UP.
77 mins: Five metres defensive scrum, back to Dagg and he clears under massive pressure.
76 mins: Boks with an attacking libneout out...shocker and ABs snag it.
73 mins: Penalty to the ABs! Great Nonu run made it over the advantage line and set up the penalty. Messam took it into contact and Boks were a little hard done by as it was hardly worth a penalty. Cruden, however, takes the chance and punches it through. ABs lead 18-11 and Greyling is back on so the Boks are up to their full compliment again.
VIDEO UP OF THE GREYLING FILTH to McCaw's face
69 mins: While I've been fuming over the filthy forearm... the Boks have a penalty and a kick of 59 meters is just short again. Aaron Smith with a deep kick... Johan Goosen running it back and Woodcock gets penalised for a hand in the ruck. Kick is good - ABs lead 15-11. Faumuina on for Own Franks for the ABs. Penalties flowing to the Boks as the jumper is attacked before he landed.
VIDEO UP of the Aaron Smith try. Ohhh that Greyling incident was filthy - a forearm to McCaw's face. VIDEO UP SOON.
63 mins: Boks in real trouble. Since Greyling has come on he's been in the ref's bad books... yellow carded for hitting an AB in the face. Boks down to 14.
61 mins: TRY!!! BRILLIANT Aaron Smith. The ball popped out of a ruck and Smith grabbed it, went flip you 'Flip' as he went around him without a second thought and dashed away to the line. VIDEO UP SOON. Kick's good, All Blacks lead 15-8 as the two Manawatu boys combine. Coetzee on for Alberts for the Boks.
VIDEO UP OF JANE'S LOVELY WORK.
58 mins: Pienaar with some strange kicks just giving possession away. Wow Dagg drills one from five metres from his own goal line to 10 metres outside the Boks 22. The game is going through a scrappy phase. Kick... kick... kick... up and under... kick... kick... kick. Penalty. Stutter, stutter.
55 mins: Cory Jane takes a lovely ball, finds Dagg in a gap... ohhh chance out wide but it's lost as the Boks scramble and the ABs panic and lose control. Lovely work from Jane taking the highball. VIDEO UP SOON.
54 mins: Bekker on for good now and Kruger is off. We have a defensive scrum, All Blacks feed. Reed feeds it blindside to Aaron Smith and he dribbles it down the touch - clever kick picks up 40 metres.
VIDEO UP OF HABANA'S TRY
51 mins: Dean Grelying immediately penalised for hand in the ruck and it's given Cruden and chance to line up at the sticks and level things up. Cruden makes no mistake and it's 8-all in Dunedin.
50 mins: Hore and Romano gone for the ABs and Retalick and Mealamu on for the ABS. The Beast goes for the Boks and Greyling on.
49 mins: Another penalty for mucking with the lineout and lifters so Steyn puts the visiting side hot on attack. TRY!!! What a try by Bryan Habana!!! Magical. The ball as taken in by Merve and Habana hit the line, times the kick and gets the bounce and scores. VIDEO UP SOON. Kick misses and the Boks lead 8-5.
47 mins: Hore overthrows and the Boks get it and kick it straight to Dagg... he kicks too, SA decide to run it a bit. Left and right....F. Steyn with the up and under and Dagg handles it with care... Nonu kicking and drills it to touch. Nonu kicking. Hmmm can't remember saying that too much.
45 mins: All Blacks get their hands on the ball and take it forward via the short route... hands in there by the Boks - Pienaar and Cruden with the ball on the halfway line. Kicks for touch and it's 8 metres outside the 22.
43 mins: Kirchner with a drop kick from an ABs half cleared kick and it's well away. Very ambitious.
42 mins: Early ball to the Boks.... Bekker with a great charge forward. Pienaar speads it and it's set up on the left. Numbers.... great Smith (Conrad) tackle lowers Kirchner. Not going anywhere but testing the ABs defence just the same... Habana puts the foot down and the ball down at the same time. It will be a defensive scrum the the ABs. Flip van der Merve back on after blood bin and stitches.
WEEPU IS OFF AND AARON SMITH IS ON!
Well, I was right to be nervous about this one. Boks are going good. All Blacks I'm sure will get a blast at the break but you can only play as well as the opposition lets you play. Plenty of play midfield but the territory favours the Boks at 58%. Turnovers too 6-2 to the SA. Ian Foster: There's a lot of lost possession. We didn't get over the gain like we liked.... need to be better holding onto the ball."
HALFTIME All Blacks 5 V Springboks 3: game on!
40 mins: Hooter goes... lineout SA. Andries Bekker coming on... just a blood replacement. Willem Alberts with a great take at the top of the lineout. Flag out on the far side. It's against Woodcock for taking Alberts legs out while in the air... no one saw that, but he did take the lifter out of play the replay picks up. Steyn again... and misses it again!,/p>
39 mins: Gee the Springboks are turning some ball over at the break down. Habana gets it and pushes off Savea - did I just say that? anyways - back inside and the Boks this time with the penalty against them for holding on. Too much whistle creeping in here. Cruden misses touch and off goes Habana.
35 mins: Five minutes to the break and it's against Beast Mtawarira for who knows what. Silly penalty... perfectly good scrum. ABs kick, quick lineout and Nonu goes in hard.... loses the ball and SA kick deep and DAGG, Dagg beats one then kicks. He skins Habana then and drilled it to the halfway mark. Luke Romano with the steal lineout time. Big kick, they've called that it's gone out on the full but it came off Habana's fingers. ABs lose 30 metres and the ball and the Dunedin crowd are giving the ref the raspberries.
32 mins: Droppie from the 22 and the Boks have the ball with Strauss running right at Smith and running hard. Ball is turned back to the pack who are playing out of their skin... penalty Boks. Looks like it was Read for not rolling away and you can't argue with that. It's hard as he and McCaw were involved in the tackle but thems the rules. M. Steyn lines it up and it misses! They could be 10 points up by now... that was the fifth kick at goal.
30 mins: F. Steyn going for a 58 metre kick! Didn't see what the penalty was for but this is right out in front a mile out. JUST and I say JUST under the bar.
29 mins: SA feed on their own 22... Vermuelen takes it off the back and gets driven back by McCaw and Weepu. Pienaar loses control, gets it back, and kicks... Dagg takes it and the ball spread right, Nonu with a great surge through a couple of tackles... back in the forwards no after it being spread back left... set... Kruger somewhow gets his hands on it and the Boks cleverly slow things down. They maul... great stuff. Old school rugby. Kick... Dagg lines it up and loses it... back with the Boks and they move the pill left and it's fires right into touch two weeks in a row. ABs take it early then belt the hell out of it. Francois Steyn gathers his thoughts and welts it to touch.
26 mins: Abs struggle the pill forward and the Boks have their arms wrapped around it... turnover. There was a chance to get that ball out - Weepu MUST demand it.
25 mins: Another penalty to the Springboks when Julian Savea is swamped, hitting the ground in a three-man tackle. Morne Steyn brings the dialed-in boot forward... it was dialed to the right as he misses. How did that miss? Roof or not - it isn't easy for goal kickers. Read with a HUGE hit on Louw from the drop kick... VIDEO UP.
VIDEO UP OF THE ABS TRY
23 mins: Cruden with a little knock on after some messy ball security by the Boks. SA with a defensive scrum.
19 mins: ABs win the ball and Andrew Hore gets his side over the advantage line. Onto Whitleock with a lovely offload to Kieran Read from the groung... off to DAGG FOR THE TRY! Great stuff. VIDEO UP SOON. Kick misses and the All Blacks lead 5-3.
18 mins: Tony Woodcock penalised for his head and shoulders being below the hips. Woodcock was the first to lose the bind. Boks kick and they have the ball at halfway. Drive is in motion. The march is on... and on... Strauss goes to ground just outside the 22. Pick and go. Messam hammers Louw backwards - 'Ye shall not pass'. Still Boks ball... penalty to the Boks for the ABs not rolling away. It's 33 metres out on the angle just to the left of the uprights. Very kickable. Morne Steyn... nails it. Boks lead 3-0.
14 mins: Habana with a good run and he brushes Weepu out of the way... Steyn takes it up and he's guilty of not releasing too and Cruden looks to touch. Big punt. ABs with a lineout deep. Shortened lineout... ABs circled yarning about tactics... Whitelock deflects, it off to Nonu and on to McCaw who charges then sets it up... Messam now involved at the 22... defence holding up well. Cruden off to Whitelock on the bash, Cruden with another chance and then Dagg has a probe as they search for a whole... it goes right and McCaw finds himself on the wing... breaks down as a Bok gets a hand on it. Promising spell there.
11 mins: Steyn gets the ball back after a high kick from the home side and it's not forceback... Israel Dagg lets rip with one and it's a lineout just inside the Boks' half.
10 mins: ABs with some ball and Weepu takes them right from the scrum, Smith dummies then is taken down, good work Habana, and Smith is now penalised for holding on. Morne Steyn steps up as this on is 43 metres on the angle to the right. It drifts away to the left.
8 mins: Boks having plenty of possession and the ABs are forced to defend. Strauss with a good charge over the top of the ruck, Alberts very prominent too... but there's a knock on. Boks are going forward well.
5 mins: Loose ball towed through and the Boks are hot on attack... still going... huge numbers to the right... they free it and BLOW IT! Butchered asit just had to go to hand to Bryan Habana on the right wing and it was trytime in the corner. VIDEO UP.
3 mins: Willem Alberts smashed Conrad Smith in a huge hit as Smith turned to offload. All Blacks looking for mismatches in midfield but the big boys were met by big boys. Ball turned over to the Boks. Free kick to the ABs for the Boks going early in the scrum... poor kick from Weepu and it's an easy mark for Zane Kirchner at the back.
We've kicked off... and Juandre Kruger takes it in neatly... Pienaar puts up the bomb and Cory Jane takes it brilliantly. Penalty there to the ABs and they drive it to the corner through Cruden. Top ABs star.
Get set for the haka... will have the video of it up as soon as it's over... Piri starts the ball rolling and the crowd responds will a roar... and the thighs get slapped with some tongue pointing too... ripper. Haka VIDEO UP.
Hoping that McCaw will man-handle Francois Louw tonight. We look in the dressing room right now and the team has locked arms in a circle... McCaw leading them out now. This one will be a cracker! HUGE roar!!!
Have to say... I'm nervous about this one for some reason.
DC says Weepu will be kicking the goals tonight... Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale at the ruggers. Loving the golden boys out their to watch - hopefully - some more NZ glory.
Steve Hansen says: "I think it will be a huge struggle," with the SA putting pressure on themselves and teams like that are "always hard to play". He thinks they'll stick to their usual game, lot of drives, kicking... he hopes they've second guessed what they are going to do. Crucial: tight five... whoever wins that and gets go forward ball will take it out. He's excited to see the team play the stadium for the first time.
Ian Jones is looking at the running lines of the ABs backs... saying they drift across the park too much and need someone to straighten it up. That one isn't rocket science Jonesy. But DC says the ABs have been working hard on it and as soon as one person drifts the rest go along. We'll see in 20-odd minutes how the off-field work will translate to whistle time.
Pienaar is a very solid halfback and just what the Boks need - stability in the link.
Former ABs and Highlanders legend Tony Brown says the ABs will just want to be "getting out there". The preps all done. It's time to go to work.
There's plenty of Springboks support down in Dunna's... let's not forget that the Boks love playing the ABs and they will raise their game for sure... some fans are even saying we are "in for a surprise". Well, to answer that - it will be a surprise if the Springboks get up.
There's rain about in Dunedin tonight according to the Met Service but our Rugby Editor Hamish McKay looked pretty dry in the 6pm news... off course, rain or no rain, it means nothing thanks to the lid at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Kick off is not far away so in the meantime watch highlights as the All Blacks beat Argentina last week.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Piri Weepu; Keiran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Victor Vito, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Tamati Ellison.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Beast Mtawarira. Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Juan de Johngh, Patrick Lambie.
New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks will get a chance to measure their progress in the year since the World Cup when they meet for the first time in the new Rugby Championship on Saturday.
The All Blacks and Springboks didn't meet at the Cup - South Africa's campaign ended in the quarterfinals and New Zealand's with overall victory - but the match in Dunedin will offer a valuable comparison.
Since the nations last met, a month before the World Cup, both have changed coaches and lost senior players, and Saturday's game will provide an indication of which team has best adjusted to the overhaul that often comes in a post-World Cup year.
New Zealand is unbeaten in five tests since the World Cup. Steve Hansen, who took over as head coach from Graham Henry within weeks of the final, has quickly established his own regime, creating a new coaching team and blooding a host of players including scrumhalf Aaron Smith, winger Julian Savea and the locks Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano who are members of Saturday's 22.
Heyneke Meyer has taken over as Springboks coach from the enigmatic Peter de Villiers, providing an immediate counterpoint to his predecessor by returning to a solid and conservative style. The Boks form since the World Cup is mixed; they edged England in a close-fought series in June and have a win, a draw and a loss in their first three matches in the Rugby Championship.
While it retains the No. 3 world ranking behind New Zealand and Australia, South Africa's early World Cup exit and unimpressive form since have weakened its hold on that standing.
Meyer has led a return to the 10-man style of the 2007 World Cup-winning team and Saturday's match may indicated whether that style is still practical or dated.
On recent form, the All Blacks should win comfortably on Saturday provided they can control the mistakes that have riddled their play against Australia and Argentina. They seem close to clicking and producing a performance to match their 60-0 win over Ireland in June.
New Zealand still counts South Africa as its most formidable opponent and Hansen knows a victory over the Springboks is required to fully frank his coaching regime.
"New Zealand's history with the Springboks is such that they will always be the traditional foe," Hansen said. "Australia is more like a big brother and you always want to beat your bigger brother, but playing South Africa is the ultimate and has been all my life and still is.
"This week is all about what we are going to be allowed to do against the Boks. And what we need to do to be able to stop them doing what they want to do. They are a big side, they are physical and we have to match that physicality and passion and desperation they have got."
South Africa's early tests in the Rugby Championship suggest they will play a 10-man game based around flyhalf Morne Steyn, who is convinced a conservative style plays to South Africa's strengths at this time.
"We've won a Tri-Nations with the same gameplan and in 2007 we won the World Cup with these tactics," he said. "We have to stay with this strategy.
"All teams that win the Super 15 are the teams that kick the most. The Crusaders, the Reds, the Bulls when we won it. At the Bulls we get some grief for kicking too much. It's not kicking the ball away; it's kicking for a purpose. People out there don't have the stats."
The 2007 success was built around players such as Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and John Smit and the current team can't pretend to duplicate their experience or influence.
A 10-man style requires near perfect execution and conditions. This Springboks team will need to eliminate it recent errors, and overcome an experience deficit if it is to prevail on Saturday.