Last Word On Rugby, by Scott Hornell.
Two terrific test matches were played on opposite sides of the world. Final round of The Rugby Championship, but in reality, one side had dominated the tournament in 2016–the All Blacks claiming the trophy with ease.
They visited South Africa to play their longtime foe, the Springboks. Across the world, in London, Argentina and Australia renewed their Rugby World Cup semi final rivalry. Each match held the rugby world’s attention, so enjoy a brief match breakdown and full scoreboard.
Firstly, we go to South Africa.
South Africa 15 New Zealand 57
Kings Park, Durban
From the build-up, the respect between the sides was translated into a massive contest on the Park. Huge hits to start with, bodies crashing into each other. That took an early toll, as 50th test celebrant Francois Louw left the field with a leg injury. Damian de Allende took an injury too–that exposed a weak Springbok bench, only showing the gap between the two sides strengths. The Kiwi team holding stronger depth and a full 23 man squad.
Beauden Barrett scored 16 points, including two tries. Missing several kicks from the tee; as mentioned by this reporter before, the Hurricanes first-five brings value in other ways. His haul was one point better than Morne Steyn  yet all rugby fans will say there is a gulf between how the two play. Steyn was always deep in the pocket, ready to force a kick. Even if he did take on the line, it wasn’t effective. Meanwhile Barrett had to wait for his opportunity, as did the All Blacks.
New Zealand absorb early pressure
It took time for Barrett and his team to subdue the early push from South Africa. That included two penalties from the hosts, and even Kieran Read was put under the blow-torch (costing three points himself) but the champions sat in wait. It was in the 22nd-minute, before Israel Dagg was released by Jerome Kaino’s superb pass. It ropened the pressure-relief valve.
After that, the play began to go the Kiwi’s way. They fought more down in the hosts territory more–credit to the Springboks defense for their in-your-face tackling. When the opportunity was presented, starting halfback TJ Perenara stepped, and burrowed over. The TMO judged it clean, and besides a Brodie Retallick attempted try not being allowed, it closed out a pretty tough first half.
TRY! It's deemed TJ Perenara maintained control of the ball. Barrett hits his first kick of the night as NZ lead 12-9 after 32' #RSAvNZL
— Radio Sport (@radiosportnz) October 8, 2016
The second forty minutes was where the All Blacks hit the nail home. Within three minutes, Dagg scored a double. It wounded the Springboks and even as Steyn collected penalties from New Zealand infringements, fans wanted tries. The call “Bokke, Bokke!” rang around Kings Park, but they could not promote any deep pressure.
Mistakes pounced on by All Blacks
In fact, any small mistake was pounced on the the visitors. A kick through saw Barrett out-sprint the defense (like in the RWC final) to claim his try. Willie le Roux had his chance, as did the occasional forward breach, but sure defense allowed the All Blacks to recover quickest. Their reaction time and the sense of when to ‘roll the dice’ means they always tend to capitalize on chances.
Replacements began to add fresh legs to the battle; Wyatt Crockett and Tawera Kerr-Barlow added their skillset, and the fight was now in the Africa sides territory. They hit hard: Barrett sublime, as he scored his second. When Lood de Jager was given a yellow card, and at 15-36, the flood gates were effectively released.
Tryfest in final ten minutes creates history
At this point, with an extra man, three quick tries drove home the ultimate distance between the sides. The crisp attack was hard to keep a lid on, so when given the chance, they attacked and established a piece of history.
— iamjonnyking™ (@iamjonnyking) October 8, 2016
Winning by 42 points, nine tries to nil, is their biggest ever margin over the Boks. While it glossed over the tight nature of the contest, coach Allister Coetzee said post-match “it’s tough and it’s hurting. It’s something that you can’t measure of the effort of the players by – especially in the last 10 minutes, which was compounded by the yellow card as well (to Lood). We have to fix it, we have to fix it.”
Kieran Read stated it clearly, “to come to South Africa and score a victory like that, it won’t come again I don’t think, so you’ve just got to be stoked.”
South Africa 15 – Morne Steyn 5 pens
All Blacks 57 – Israel Dagg 2, TJ Perenara 2, Beauden Barrett 2, Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Liam Squire tries; Barrett 3 cons, Lima Sopoaga 3 cons
In other results, The Rugby Championship competition had traveled to London, in a first for the SANZAAR tournament.
Argentina 21 Australia 33
Taking their final home match to England was an experiment from both Argentina, and the organizers. The loss of home ground support was replaced (to a degree). Ex-pat supporters of both sides made their presence felt.
Argentina's fans are making themselves at home pic.twitter.com/dHdwuYGNvG
— Tom Hamilton (@tomESPNscrum) October 8, 2016
In a thrilling climax, the match might be remembered for a late intercept try by lock Dean Mumm that sealed the 12 point win. That does not give Argentina enough justice, as they were very involved in making this match memorable.
Australia take first-blood
It began with a flourish of ‘manic rugby’ where Dane Haylet-Petty showed some class. It all led to Sekope Kepu setting up Adam Coleman to score the opening try. That created the tone, and Bernard Foley was his settled best, converting and then kicking a penalty. Out to 0-10, the Agentine players were gulping for air as the pace was frenetic.
They appeared to be right under the coch, until Michael Hooper infringed. Judged to be a Yellow Card, it unsettled the Aussie team. Immediately, Los Pumas applied pressure and it resulted in Matias Alemanno scoring. Unconverted, Foley soon clawed out a penalty advantage and with Hooper back, they took a breath themselves. Looking to consolidate, within a few minutes, the Wallabies were back to 14 men.
Two yellow cards show poor discipline
Adam Coleman committed a high-tackle and let down his team mates. They had to work hard to hold out the Pumas. Work they did, and rewarded for their effort with a zero gain. Agustin Creevy must have been seething when Samu Kerevi scored a try. He would have been annoyed they could not make any real gains, after two yellow cards.
Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias kicked one late penalty, but at 8-18 they were failing to take advantage. Words must have been said at halftime. From there, the Aussie team were unable to control the opening passage that led to Jeronimo de la Fuento’s try. It had to be made too, and gladly gave Puma’s supporters something to cheer about.
This unique setting was a hothouse. 48,515 attending Twickenham, with plenty of blue yet as much support for Australia too–along with the interested neutral supporters. They soon cheered loudest after Hooper was impressive in setting up Kerevi for his second try. BANG! A big moment, and converted by Foley, it released the pressure.
Argentina fail to drag themselves above the line
The South American team were unable to position themselves to score often. Possession favoured them, and like Perth, they had ample ball. Australia made their tackles, and Michael Cheika will be happy they managed the two earlier yellow cards and withstood the constant pressure, to win on the day.
In fact, the pressure almost boiled over when fiesty Nick Phipps had a brain explosion. He pushed an Argentinian medic which caused an ugly looking confrontation. It was unnecessary, unsportsman-like and might have seen him given a personal foul in any other sport. World Rugby may look harshly at that incident; one of many clashes within the match.
Argentina physio goes for ball, Phipps shoves him over… no card. That's mad!
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) October 8, 2016
Los Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade told media “Australia took advantage of the opportunities that were presented and won, but we did not overcome either the game or the physical aspect”. Jerónimo De la Fuente, author of one of the tries for the Pumas said, “we still lack a mature team. Today we fail to control the ball nor could we keep a cool head”. Their disappointment was obvious.
Argentina 21 – Matias Alemanno, Jeronimo de la Fuente tries; Santiago Gomez Iglesias 1 con; Gomez Iglesias 3 pens.
Australia 33 – Seru Kerevi 2, Adam Coleman, Dean Mumm tries; Bernard Foley 2 cons; Foley 3 pens.
TRC Final Standings
The 2016 title was taken back, by the All Blacks. Taking a maximum points haul, six-out-of-six wins was an exclamation mark on a fantastic season. Australia managed to take out second place, with their third victory but it is the losses that hurt them most.
South Africa will be unhappy to claim third place, with no highlights to take away for their end of year tour. Argentina may not be as upset as the Springboks, but the passionate South American’s wear their hearts on their sleeves–tears after today’s match prove that.
New Zealand – 30 (maximum)
Australia – 13
South Africa – 10
Argentina – 5
All sides now take a short rest, before the last Bledisloe Cup match between New Zealand and Australia. With a winning sequence of 17 victories, they have been here before–with a draw ending the last run of victories. At Eden Park, they can write their names in history (like they did in Durban today).
After that match on October 22, each then readies themselves for the November end of year tours to the Northern Hemisphere.
“Main photo credit”