South Africa 35 (14) New Zealand 7 (0)

Brutal Boks hand All Blacks heaviest ever Test defeat at Twickenham to make RWC statement

Brutal Boks hand All Blacks heaviest ever Test defeat at Twickenham to make RWC statement
Canan Moodie was sensational again, this time at outside centre. The Springboks secured a record 35-7 win over the All Blacks at Twickenham. (Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images)

The Springboks handed the All Blacks their heaviest-ever Test defeat to complete their Rugby World Cup preparation in style.

If the Springboks were hoping to slip into France for the defence of their Rugby World Cup unnoticed and underrated, they blew that script at Twickenham on Friday night. 

By demolishing the All Blacks 35-7 in front of 82,000 people in southwest London, the Boks might as well have sent up flares announcing their intention to defend the title they won in Japan four years ago.

They have not won anything yet, but victories over the All Blacks are rare, so this is worth celebrating. 

It was a brutal emasculation of the All Blacks. And when the review is done in the cold light of day, the Boks will realise they could have won by so much more.

Not that it mattered to the largely South African crowd who came out in droves to support Kolisi’s men. If the Boks ever play in the Six Nations, which is a distinct possibility, they will have no shortage of support.

Bok centre Andre Esterhuizen created endless problems for the All Blacks midfield at Twickenham. (Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images)

It was a fine win, but the Boks left several chances out there, as many as seven, especially when the All Blacks were down to 13 men late in the first quarter with Scott Barrett and Sam Cane in the sin bin for cynical fouls. New Zealand survived that period thanks to some impatient play from the Boks, but the pressure eventually told.

Pieter-Steph du Toit also earned a second half yellow card for a high hit on Sam Cane. It was reviewed by the Foul Play Review Officer in the bunker and was not elevated to a red card, so there will be no further repercussions. 

The Boks outscored New Zealand by five tries to one, ensuring it was the worst defeat in All Blacks’ history. The 28-point winning margin was staggering, especially when set against the 35-20 defeat the Boks suffered in Auckland five weeks earlier. But it was also the least South Africa deserved from the match.

Immense power

They simply blew New Zealand off the pitch from minute one to 80. The physicality of the Bok pack, which went up a notch when coach Jacques Nienaber threw on seven forwards in one collective substitution binge around 55 minutes into the game, was too much for the All Blacks.

And therein lies the Boks’ route to success. It’s no secret. They overpower and outmuscle opponents and when the first wave tires, the bench comes on and hurts the opponents further. Everyone knows it, but when the Boks are in the mood, no side can combat it.

The All Blacks were also terribly ill-disciplined, which was the result of the pressure they were under, but it was not good enough if they hope to win the World Cup. They conceded 11 penalties in the first half alone. 

Wing Kurt Lee Arendse streaks away for his 11th try in 11 Tests as the Springboks beat the All Blacks 35-7 at Twickenham. (Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images)

Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth, hell, the entire starting pack, were immense. And when Trevor Nyakane, Ox Nche, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Bongi Mbonambi, Jean Kleyn and Marco van Staden arrived en masse, the intensity lifted. 

Seldom, maybe never before, has an All Black side been so bullied, and so bereft of ideas. Their discipline crumbled in the face of the onslaught, which was epitomised when Scott Barrett earned a 39th minute red card after he slammed into Marx’ neck while the Bok hooker was prone on the deck. It was simply a symptom of the frustration and tension the All Blacks felt. 

But the difference with the Boks now is, they have some serious weapons out wide.

Flyhalf Manie Libbok enjoyed the ride from behind his dominant pack. He landed five from five from tee, guided the backs and the attack with confidence and accuracy and made some raking touch finding kicks.

And the generational talent that is Canan Moodie passed his outside centre test like he passed All Black defenders – with swagger.

Moodie scored one of the great tries that never was, after kicking the ball out of Rieko Ioane’s hand, collecting it and dancing around two defenders from 60 metres out. It was disallowed after he was ruled to be marginally offside before dispossessing Ioane. Still, it summed up his sumptuous gifts in seven seconds. 

Lock Eben Etzebeth carries strongly into contact as Scott Barrett and Jordie Barrett attempt to cut him down. (Photo: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images)

Andre Esterhuizen might have done enough t0 usurp Damian de Allende as starting inside centre in France and Damian Willemse’s outstanding contribution at fullback creates a welcome selection dilemma for the coaches. 

Willie le Roux, who was set to start from the bench, cried off in the warm-up and Nienaber made the bold call to replace him with Smith. The Boks had seven forwards and only one back – Cobus Reinach – on the bench. It mattered little.

Under pressure

From the kick-off the All Blacks were forced deep into their 22 and it felt like they never left it for the entire first half. They certainly didn’t escape for the first 10 minutes, in which they conceded five penalties, four of them within 10 metres of their tryline. The pressure from the Boks was relentless. 

English referee Matthew Carley showed admirable restraint not to brandish the yellow card so early. All Black forwards repeatedly infringed at the lineout and on the ground as they desperately tried to repel the green and gold wave crashing onto their shores. 

The Boks had three lineouts five metres from the All Black line in 10 minutes and each time, by hook or crook, they were stopped.

The Boks’ early finishing was poor, with Willemse stopped short, Marx held up over the line and Faf de Klerk knocking on close to the line.

In years past, these errors would eventually be punished by the All Blacks, but the Bok power was suffocating. Eventually Kolisi barged over from close range for the opening score after 18 minutes to hand the Boks some reward for their dominance.

All Black lock Scott Barrett is the meat in a Springbok sandwich courtesy of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk. (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It took another 16 minutes of pressure before they were in again, this time when wing Kurt Lee Arendse intercepted a shaky Jordie Barrett offload. 

The All Blacks were on the ropes but they thought they’d scored just before halftime when wing Will Jordan scooted into the corner, only to have the score chalked off for an earlier knock-on. Nothing was going their way.

Despite that the Boks ‘only’ led 14-0 at the break and there was a sense that if New Zealand could somehow score straight after halftime, the game could change.

Instead, it was Marx who stormed in for the Boks third try a minute into the second stanza. Kolisi and he worked the short side from a lineout and their combined efforts took the match out of reach.

Further tries for Mbonambi from the back of a rolling maul, and the irrepressible Smith gave the Boks a 35-0 lead with 13 minutes to play. 

Somehow the All Blacks saved some face thanks to a classy solo try from reserve scrumhalf Cam Roigard. But it was nothing more than a plaster on a 20-stitch gash. DM


South Africa – Tries: Siya Kolisi, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Kwagga Smith. Conversions: Manie Libbok (5).

New Zealand – Try: Cam Riogard. Conversion: Richie Mo’unga.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    My best birthday present in 63 years!!!!Thank you Springbokke.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    That was deeply, deeply satisfying! Everybody stepped up and played their part in a great win. I suppose the challenge for the coaches and captain is to make sure the boys stay focused and keep up this kind of performance week in and out for the next couple of months.

  • Warren Wilbraham says:

    I enjoyed that total demolition immensely. If we can play to 90% of last nights effort with a consistent ref we are going to be very tough to beat barring a “once in a lifetime” performance from the opposition.
    GO BOKKE!!!

  • One big factor was having Marx start. You must play your best players and ignore the racial quotas to win the world cup.

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      You know Mbonambi is a word-class hooker, right? No quotas there! In fact, no quotas ANYWHERE in that team – so I think you owe the Boks and the selectors an apology 🙄🤨

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        Absolutely – it was always a tactical ploy to have Marx as part of the bomb squad, and for a while Bongi was the better hooker: better darts, controlled the rolling maul better and deserved to start with Marx marauding from the bench.

    • John Blignaut says:

      Unbelievable. We beat the world’s best sports team and someone still brings up quota as an issue 🤦‍♂️

    • Erika Suter says:

      This was the only comment that soured my joy in reading this wonderful account by Craig Ray of a proud SA moment, and the elated comments that followed. As a white South African to you, another white South African, I just want to say “shut the f*** up”. You are an embarrassment! Get a life! Maybe in NewZealand?!

    • pcdicey says:

      I think what Mikebsteyn might have been saying is that its time to maturely look ahead and ignore the quota rules that are in place, so you are not constrained by those restrictive shackles (ie Boks’ stated mandate to have 50% on field, or in squad, or whatever.) I don’t think there is any question that every person in the squad fully deserves to be there – its now time to look past quota rules and play the best combinations, whatever colour happens to be on the field at any one time. That’s what I support.

    • Fred S says:

      What a stupid, dof comment

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Simply a joy. 😀

    Well done them Boks!

  • Positive Future says:

    Well played and it was such a pleasure to watch. It was so pleasing to see the Boks go for the corner kick / lineout over and over again, not opting for the goal kick.

    That may well have surprised the ABs and notably took the wind out of their sails.

    Please can we have more of this: go for lineouts and tries instead of attempting to kick at goal each time there’s a penalty. Go Bokke!

  • Johan Buys says:

    Yes, we did play half the game against 14, but it was a massive show of force. Now just don’t get complacent.

  • PETER BAKER says:

    It was a great win for sure, but these All Blacks will take this very badly and come out to kill anything they next meet up with. They have very long memories so the worst thing for us is to gloat. Nope. We must just plan how we will hammer them next encounter. The wounded All Black is like a wounded leopard, very dangerous. We must just be much smarter; and oh yes get more ball to that new youngster- what’s his name? Moodie?!!

  • Joseph du Hecquet says:

    I wish the team would send the ball out wide when they are pressing close to the try line and the short passes and charges by the forwards do not seem to work. The highly talented line are just waiting for that ball.

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