The Springboks lost their fifth consecutive Test as a Dan Carter-inspired All Blacks hammered them 45-26 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.
The ignominy of the result was illustrated at the post match interviews on the field when Bok captain John Smit was booed while he was talking, while New Zealand’s Richie McCaw received a huge cheer. Many of the approximately 53000 fans had already left in disgust at another poor effort by the Boks in the Vodacom Tri-Nations this year.
Carter was simply sublime once again as he kicked 20 points and was brilliant as he marshalled his troops, helping set up three of the All Blacksâ€™ tries. He was deservedly named man-of-the-match.
The defeat means the Boksâ€™ current losing streak is the third worst in the countryâ€™s Test history. The only other occasions the Boks have lost more Tests consecutively was from 1891 to 1896 (six defeats) and the seven losses from 1964 to 1965.
The win for the All Blacks means they have broken their duck against Jake Whiteâ€™s Boks on SA soil in the most emphatic fashion possible. They outscored the home side by five tries to three. But if truth be told it could and should have been more.
But things actually looked so promising in the first 20 minutes and even at the break, the Boks were still well in the game at 11-16 down. The second half was disastrous for the Boks as the visitors found their stride rather nicely.
The Springboks began like a house on fire and were awarded a penalty on the All Blacksâ€™ 22 in the first minute. Percy Montgomery made no mistake to give the Boks the early lead.
The Boks then doubled that advantage two minutes later when flyhalf Butch James slotted a 50m kick after the visitorsâ€™ Neemia Tialata infringed at scrum time.
The Boks were dominating play, but Carter pulled three points back in the 6th minute. It wasnâ€™t long before the Boks were rewarded for their dominance when, following a lineout in the All Blacksâ€™ 22, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez latched onto a loose ball and scampered over from the side of a ruck.
Although Montgomery missed the angled conversion the home team led 11-3 and were looking good with ball in hand. Unfortunately they used the up-and-under to far too liberal effect and gifted the ball back to the All Blacks way too often.
The All Blacks used the boot too, but Carter was much more pin-point with his efforts. And on 18 minutes he reduced the deficit with a second penalty.
The visitors had already been rocked by freak injuries to first fullback Leon MacDonald (12th minute) and Greg Somerville (15th minute), with Isaia Toeava and Tony Woodcock slotting in.
The Boks also lost CJ van der Linde midway through the half and BJ Botha came on for his first Bok cap. He handled himself well in his first scrum, but was penalised for slipping his bind in his second scrum.
Montgomery was put under immense pressure with several high kicks during the first 40 minutes and the All Blacks slowly started to find their feet. Carter was again pulling the strings and his through kick in the 32nd minute found Tialata in the in-goal area for the New Zealanders first try. He added the conversion for good measure and the All Blacks led for the first time.
They should have added another try minutes later, but Rico Gear held on when he should have passed to Ali Williams. The ball though was recycled and it looked like Toeava was in, but he proceeded to drop the ball metres from the line. The Boks breathed again.
But Carter had the last laugh of an error-strewn half by both teams when he comfortably kicked a 61m penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the All Blacks a 16-11 lead at the interval.
The All Blacks started the second half ominously and went further ahead via a Carter penalty, before the most bizarre try of this Tri-Nations. The Springboks literally gave up as the All Blacks finished with five players on one.
Du Preez had no hope as Luke McAlister rounded him and scored between the sticks. Carterâ€™s conversion made it 26-11. Montgomery kicked a penalty two minutes later, but the Boks were looking listless and devoid of ideas.
Plan A involved a barrage of high kicks, but that failed miserably and there didnâ€™t seem anything to fall back on. The All Blacks capitalised and put the result beyond doubt â€“ if it was not already â€“ with two tries in three minutes that made the score 38-14.
Coach Jake White tried to stem the tide with a slew of changes. He brought on Ruan Pienaar at fullback for Percy Montgomery (for his debut), Andre Pretorius at No 10 and Pedrie Wannenburg for Solly Tyibilika. But it hardly had the desired result.
The All Blacks were far from their ruthless best yet still managed to win by 19 points, even though Jaque Fourie scored two late tries as the All Blacks took the foot off the pedal.
Gear though rubbed the Boks’ noses in it with a breakaway try four minutes from time that put the seal on the All Blacks fifth Tri-Nations win on-the-trot.
Springboks 26 (11): Tries: Fourie du Preez (9th min), Jaque Fourie 2 (64th min, 70th min). Conversions: Andre Pretorius (64th min). Penalties: Percy Montgomery 2 (1st min, 48th min), Butch James 1 (3rd min).
All Blacks 45 (16): Tries: Neemia Tialata (32nd min), Luke McAlister (46th min), Sitiveni Sivivatu (56th min), Mils Muliaina (59th min), Rico Gear (76th min). Conversions: Dan Carter 4 (32nd min, 46th min, 59th min, 76th min). Penalties: Dan Carter 4 (6th min, 18th min, 40th min, 43rd min).
By Andrew Hollely, at Loftus Versfeld