- Publish Date
- Sunday, 9 October 2016, 9:34AM
Seventeen victories and counting for the All Blacks, their victory over South Africa in Durban this morning coming courtesy of their overall excellence which highlighted how good they are and how off the pace this Springboks team is.
The margin for their world record-equalling 17th consecutive test win was a considerable margin - 42 points, their biggest ever against the Boks - but the two teams were worlds apart.
The All Blacks, keen to put the Aaron Smith affair behind them, scored nine tries, with Israel Dagg, TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett scoring two each, as the visitors showed a depth of skill and game awareness that the Boks had no answer to.
The try by replacement hooker Codie Taylor in the dying minutes was almost cruel - the home side appearing to virtually concede the lineout drive. Ben Smith's after the sinbinning of lock Lood de Jager and Liam Squire's after the final hooter definitely were.
Their spirit was broken; and all they had to show for their limited performance were five Morne Steyn penalties.
It was the story of the match. Whereas the Boks looked stilted and awkward with the ball - when they didn't kick it away, which was often - the All Blacks constantly probed and asked questions of the defence. The Boks missed 16 tackles in the first half, the All Blacks didn't miss any.
The All Blacks poured on 45 points in the second half in an attacking and defensive masterclass, with their replacements again having a big impact.
Barrett had a poor game with his boot - missing six shots at goal - but he was superb elsewhere with his pace, footwork and passing game.
TJ Perenara took his opportunity in the absence of Aaron Smith, the midfield of Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown was rock solid again, and Ben Smith provided the attacking quality that this Boks team can only dream of. Up front the platform was laid by Brodie Retallick and Kieran Read, with Liam Squire outstanding after replacing Jerome Kaino.
The All Blacks need a victory over the Wallabies at Eden Park in a fortnight to break the world record, and it's difficult to see how Michael Cheika's men can get the better of this lot. The Boks kept in touch in the first half - mainly due to Barrett's misses in front of goal - but the All Blacks have an uncanny ability to go up a level when necessary and they were untouchable after the break.
"We knew they were going to come out firing at the start of both halves and they showed it," Perenara said afterwards. "We made a few errors... but we knew if we were accurate with what we did we would give ourselves opportunities to score and we managed to do that."
Blindside flanker Kaino said of the win: "It's special. The boys really hard to work hard for that result. It was tough. In the first half they made us work. Maybe we pushed those passes a bit. But in the second half you saw how those guys who came on made a difference."
The All Blacks' offloads, such an important part of their game, weren't quite coming off early, but they quickly found their rhythm and timing. The Boks, however, couldn't build phases or put the visitors under pressure. It could be a watershed moment for South African rugby; the time for relying on 32-year-old Steyn to score all their points is clearly over.
It was the All Blacks' fifth consecutive Rugby Championship victory in which they have scored a bonus point. It represents a perfect season. More records await them.
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)
South Africa 15 (Morne Steyn 5 pens)
via Radio Sport
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