As predicted, Saturday’s game between the All Blacks and South Africa went one way. Six tries and 40 points, including two braces for both All Black wingers Zac Guildford and Cory Jane, all added up to the second heavy defeat in two weeks for Peter de Villier’s struggling spare Springboks.
It was New Zealand’s first serious Test match of the summer, which is not an insult to Fiji, but more a reflection of South Africa’s standing in the game with their rapidly disappearing title of “World Champions”. Graham Henry’s rating for his side of 7/10 seems harsh, but reflects their high standards. Dan Carter comfortably regained the all-time points scoring record from Jonny Wilkinson as the two fly-halves tug of war continues over the mantle. It only took a meagre 10 points, well below Carter’s average points haul of 15 in All Blacks matches, but his hands and skills were still at his regular level of excellence. Zac Guildford owes his first Test try to the genius of Carter, the way he sucked in defenders and released his Crusaders team-mate into space.
The other big performances came from Cory Jane, who missed a lot of the Super Rugby season with injury but looked back to his best against South Africa. Jane’s pace is his biggest asset, and he has lost none of it during his injury setbacks. Moving Adam Thomson to number 8 proved a successful experiment, while Ali Williams continues to fight his way back into contention in the second row, though he should not be first-choice when the World Cup comes around in a month’s time.
South Africa head home with having conceded 79 points in two matches against their biggest rivals. That will sting, making many a Springbok fan exceedingly angry in the process. South Africa need their supposed 21 injured stars to return, and fast. In a sense the last two matches have been pointless, given that no credible options have appeared in terms of squad selection for the World Cup. Morné Steyn’s hopes lie in tatters after faltering too many times to reach his 2009 form, and therefore they must persevere with the young Pat Lambie at 10, and bounce back at home in the next few games.
Try of the weekend is Cory Jane’s first effort. Three big passes from left to right got the ball into Jane’s hands but at a standing start. He saw John Smit ahead of him and burned round the side of the Springbok hooker to find himself in space, before skinning Bjorn Basson and touching down in the corner. His celebration said how good it felt to be back.
Wyatt Crockett is the Hero of the weekend, just reward for scoring a winger’s try in the corner following good work from Conrad Smith in the centre.
There are no Villains though this week, unusual for a match between these two teams.
What were your thoughts on the game? How good were the All Blacks out of 10?
by Ben Coles