All week the Springboks told the media how sorry they felt for the All Blacks, and then for 80 minutes they apologised on the field as the All Blacks embarrassed a South African team not capable of showing the mentality to bury the famed old enemy, writes Mark Keohane.
The All Blacks won every battle and they won the Test 35-23.
The referee was shocking but even he wasn’t as poor as the Springboks or as good as the All Blacks.
Ian Foster will win a reprieve after this win as coach of the All Blacks. It isn’t a good thing.
New Zealand rugby will feel good again – and justifiably as this was a fabulous win – and world champions South Africa will rightly be cast into a shadow of doubt.
Few, outside of the All Blacks squad, expected a win. The world demanded a Boks win, playing at altitude, in front of 62 000. That they did not deliver is something they will never be able to forget. As big as the World Cup final win was in Japan in 2019; this is as much a low.
All week the Boks spoke of how they felt sympathy for the All Blacks. I should have known then that one home win was enough for the South Africans. I didn’t acknowledge the Boks mental frailty or the pumped chest achievement of one win.
Rassie Erasmus always spoke of Springboks winning consistency after winning the World Cup. On that score it has been nothing but inconsistency. It has been a shocker. Win one week; lose the next.
In one week the Boks went from showing the world their strength, to showing them their weakest impersonation.
The All Blacks, gifted a 15-point start and a one-player advantage through a Springboks yellow card, were down 23-21 – and a man down – after 65 minutes.
What transpired was the All Blacks scoring two tries in the final quarter and the Boks looking thoroughly beaten.
For New Zealand, this is bliss.
For South Africa, this is … well … pick your emotion.
The All Blacks won by four tries to two and won with a try-scoring bonus-point.
The Boks, with 62 000 nutters, a plane fly over and a delayed All Blacks arrival, should have buried the All Blacks by double digits on Saturday.
Instead, they got buried at the home of South African rugby.
In the 15 Tests played at Ellis Park between the two rivals, there hasn’t been a SA defeat as humiliating as this one, given the context to both teams’ 2022 season.
What the Test revealed was no matter how vulnerable the All Blacks, they remain a danger and no matter how potent the Springboks, they are always capable of dog show.
The best team wore black. The best team won.