South Africa denied New Zealand victory in Wellington for a second successive year as Herschel Jantjies’ last-gasp try meant a see-saw Rugby Championship clash finished 16-16 on Saturday.
The All Blacks appeared on course to avenge a 36-34 loss to the same opponents at Westpac Stadium last September after they overcame a sloppy first-half performance to seize control.
Jack Goodhue crossed for a 37th-minute try that was converted by Beauden Barrett, who also added a second-half penalty to go alongside six points from the boot of Richie Mo’unga.
However, the home side’s hopes of revenge were dashed at the death, Jantjies beating Aaron Smith to Cheslin Kolbe’s high kick for a score that was eventually awarded after checking video footage for a knock-on.
A calm and collected Handre Pollard knocked over the resulting conversion with the final kick, leaving honours even and South Africa on top of the table in this year’s shortened edition of the competition.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 27, 2019
The two heavyweights had the opportunity to land a psychological blow ahead of facing each other again in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup in September, yet both struggled for fluency in attack.
South Africa dominated before the break but only managed a pair of penalties from Pollard, allowing a lethargic New Zealand to seize a half-time lead when Barrett put the supporting Goodhue in the clear.
Barrett added the conversion and was also on target with an early second-half penalty before Mo’unga took over kicking duties, the fly-half pushing the All Blacks into a 16-9 advantage heading into the closing stages despite the loss of influential lock Brodie Retallick to a dislocated shoulder.
Yet having barely threatened since the interval, the Springboks produced a late surge to leave New Zealand having to deal with a second major sporting tie in the month, following on from the Cricket World Cup final against England on July 14.
Having played a starring role as a starter in the Springboks’ 35-17 victory over Australia in the Rugby Championship opener, Jantjies this time made an impact for his country off the bench.
The replacement scrum-half climbed above Smith and knocked the ball onto his own head, the fortunate deflection allowing him to claim possession before diving over in acrobatic fashion.
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