Black with a vengeance: Boks produce the high-stakes goods
Rassie will be chuffed with the guts and amazing attitude they showed to down the mighty All Blacks
The Springboks arrived in Wellington last week like sheep to the slaughterhouse, but oh boy did they turn the tables.
When the South Africans boarded the plane back to Johannesburg on Sunday, the All Blacks were truly conquered after they were beaten 36-34 in what turned out to be a highly entertaining Test match that produced 11 tries at Westpac Stadium.
It was not a complete performance by the Boks as they committed a number of mistakes during the game and they were outscored six to five in terms of tries.
But coach Rassie Erasmus will take in the fact that they showed guts and amazing attitude – attributes needed to win high-stakes matches.
They were under serious pressure on the edge of their tryline after the hooter and some of the younger players like the ever improving Aphiwe Dyantyi will learn that big games like these are won on fine margins.
It took collective effort by the Boks to take on the best team in the world and win but Dyantyi, who is widely regarded as the hottest property in world rugby at the moment, deserves special mention for his two tries.
He brought the Boks back in the game after they went 12-0 with his first in the 21st minute and helped SA to pull away to 36-24 in the second half. The other scorers were Willie le Roux, Malcolm Marx and Cheslin Kolbe.
The other positive was that the much-criticised Handre Pollard got his scoring on point as he returned with 11 points, from four conversions and one penalty, and in the closing stages he played together with Elton Jantjies, though Erasmus admitted it was not by design.
In a performance that will be remembered for a long time, the Boks beat the mighty All Blacks for the first time since 2009 and it was also the first defeat for coach Steve Hansen in the Rugby Championship since they were beaten 27-19 by Australia in 2015.
The build-up had its fair share of challenges, with coach Erasmus saying his job would be on the line if the Boks suffered a heavy defeat.
Trade union Cosatu also entered the fray and made the accusations that black players in the team are treated like “like second-class citizens”.
But the Boks put the distractions aside and focused on what captain Siya Kolisi referred to as a special moment that will boost the mood in the country and instil confidence in the players as they continue to build a competent team for the World Cup next year.
“It was about standing up and getting over the losses we had over the past few weeks.
“We backed each other and all the coach asked was for us to give a good performance,” said Kolisi.
“He came up with the plan and we bought into it. It is an awesome day for the team and for the people back home. This means a lot for South Africans and our planning for the World Cup.”
Erasmus was cautious in victory, saying they were lucky to have managed this famous win because the All Blacks could have punished them at the death.
“We are still sitting low on the rankings and we have a lot of catch up to do over the next few months,” he added.
“There is no way we must get ahead of ourselves. It is just one big win that was achieved with a lot of luck against the best team in the world.
“We will take it and enjoy it, but it will be stupid to get ahead of ourselves because we are still far away. We were lucky today, and maybe New Zealand had an off day, but there is a lot of work to do from our side.”