Herschel Jantjies’s 80th-minute try secured a well deserved 16-16 draw for the Springboks against the All Blacks at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
Jantjies‚ who came on as a second-half substitute and played like a seasoned veteran‚ was the beneficiary of a Cheslin Kolbe chip kick that not only stayed in-field‚ but that Jantjies contested for well against New Zealand’s ace half-back Aaron Smith with the Boks trailing 16-9.
The ball came off Jantjies’s shoulder‚ but the nippy scrumhalf‚ who scored two tries on his Test debut last week against Australia‚ collected the ball and scored.
Handre Pollard‚ who also had a decent game‚ landed the game-tying conversion.
South Africa have now gone to New Zealand twice and haven’t lost to the All Blacks.
That’s all the momentum they need leading to the September 21 World Cup game between the sides in Yokohama.
That fixture is now going to be a serious club banger‚ especially with the fact of the Boks knowing they could have a somnolent second half and still escape with a draw against the world’s best team.
The All Blacks had no right to have a 7-6 half-time lead‚ but like the champion side they are‚ they made the most of the try-scoring chance that came their way.
At best‚ it was a half-chance that originated from a Duane Vermeulen knock-on‚ but they sensed an opportunity to counterattack.
That they did and when Beauden Barrett steamed down the right-hand touchline‚ the Bok defence was scorched and Jack Goodhue was on hand to collect the pass and scored.
In the 37 minutes before that converted try‚ the Springboks were asking all the questions.
They were doing everything right. They put in probing kicks behind the defensive wall‚ kicked smartly from a tactical perspective‚ and effectively made the All Blacks do all the things they make other teams do.
What was missing from the scoreboard ledger was a try and the All Blacks conceded a large number of offside penalties in the 22-metre area.
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 27, 2019
As strict as referee Nic Berry was‚ he was loath to dish out a yellow card for the repeated red zone infringements.
That said‚ the Boks deserved more than two penalties from Handre Pollard.
However‚ New Zealand trusted their defensive patterns and they worked for them.
The All Blacks had more cohesion in the second stanza and dominated territory and possession.
Like the Boks in the first half‚ they had trouble converting their dominance into something substantial.
They had a Barrett penalty in the 48th minute while Richie Mo’unga added two more in the 66th and 74th minutes. Pollard had a 61st minute three-pointer to keep the Boks interested in the game.
But‚ in what was a match of half-chances‚ the Boks made the one they had in the second half count with Jantjies’s try. The Boks‚ who didn’t get the best of service from Berry in the second half‚ won a critical scrum penalty.
While the initial touch-finder was saved‚ they still had a lineout‚ which was won and from there‚ the Boks found their way to the tryline. The half-chance counted and September 21 now feels so far away.