New Zealand 23-13 South Africa: Defending champions hold off spirited Springboks

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Beauden Barrett had a hand in both New Zealand tries
2019 Rugby World Cup: New Zealand v South Africa
New Zealand: 17 (23)
Tries: Bridge, Barrett Pens: Mo’unga 2, Barrett Cons: Mo’unga 2
South Africa: 3 (13)
Tries: Du Toit Pens: Pollard Cons: Pollard DG: Pollard

Defending champions New Zealand produced a clinical display to hold off a spirited South Africa in their World Cup Pool B opener in Yokohama.

The Springboks started brightly and took the lead with a Handre Pollard penalty before the All Blacks hit back.

Richie Mo’unga drew New Zealand level and two quick tries by George Bridge and Scott Barrett put them in front.

Pieter-Steph du Toit’s try and a Pollard drop-goal made it tense before Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett penalties.

The result means New Zealand extend their winning run to 15 games in the competition, last losing to France in the 2007 quarter-finals.

South Africa play Namibia next on Saturday, 28 September (10:45 BST), while the All Blacks face Canada on 2 October (11:15).

All Blacks show their class

Both countries are expected to make the latter stages of this tournament and they both impressed in a thoroughly entertaining Test match.

For the first 20 minutes, South Africa held a slender lead as they looked to impose themselves on the All Blacks with plenty of front-foot ball.

The influential scrum-half Faf de Klerk was pulling the strings as the Springboks won 20 rucks in the first 15 minutes.

But when Pollard’s second penalty came back off the post, momentum swung in the All Blacks’ favour.

The usually reliable De Klerk threw a loose pass and Mo’unga collected the ball to burst clear before being taken down by Makazole Mapimpi just short, although the South Africa winger was penalised for not releasing the All Blacks fly-half before competing for the ball on the ground.

The All Blacks were awarded a penalty instead of the penalty try captain Kieran Read wanted, but the defending champions then wrestled control of the game.

Sevu Reece skipped past opposite number Mapimpi moments later, in a move which ended with Beauden Barrett – who moved from full-back to first receiver on turnover ball – exploiting a gap in the Springbok defence to feed Bridge for the first try.

The All Blacks had their second try three minutes later when Anton Lienert-Brown cut back against the onrushing green shirts to pop the ball to Scott Barrett, who ran under the posts.

It was a five-minute blitz that took the game away from South Africa and reminded the rest of the world how clinical this All Black side are, despite losing their number one ranking coming into the tournament.

More to follow.

Teams

New Zealand: B Barrett; Reece, Lienert-Brown, Crotty, Bridge; Mo’unga, Smith; Moody, Coles, Laulala, Whitelock, S Barrett, Savea, Cane, Read (c).

Replacements: Taylor, Tu’ungafasi, Ta’avao, Tuipulotu, Frizell, Perenara, Williams, Smith.

South Africa: Le Roux; Kolbe, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Marx, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (c), Du Toit, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Mbonambi, Mtawarira, Nyakane, Snyman, Louw, H Jantjies, Steyn, Kriel.



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