WELLINGTON – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will no doubt be concerned that New Zealand's All Blacks overshadowed South Africa's Springboks in almost every aspect of the 16-all drawn Test in Wellington, New Zealand, over the weekend.
The result leaves the Boks top of the Rugby Championship standings after two matches and gives them the ideal opportunity of wrapping up what would be their first-ever title - and their first since the 2009 Tri-Nations - against Argentina in Salta in a fortnight.
Despite the draw, the All Blacks were well on top of the Springboks on attack. The New Zealanders made 141 carries to South Africa's 99.
The hosts ran also nearly double the number of metres (401m to the Springboks’ 237m), beat more than twice the number of defenders (28 to the Boks’ 11) and made four times the number of clean breaks with 16 to the Springboks’ four.
This was largely seen in the second half as the All Blacks applied plenty of pressure on the Boks’ defence.
Another statistic that is revealing is that New Zealand made 207 passes compared to only 103 from the visitors. The rucks also went New Zealand's way with 109 and 74 to South Africa.
However, as witnessed in the first half, the All Blacks were also very error-prone, resulting in them conceding an unusually high 19 turnovers, mostly through handling errors.
The Boks were made to work hard defensively, especially in the second half. They were not as efficient as they were against the Wallabies, missing a total of 23 of their attempted 223 tackles.
However, the fact that they only conceded the single try shows that their scramble defence worked incredibly hard. This is supported by the fact that they won seven turnovers and continually forced the All Blacks into errors.
The Springboks’ loose trio of Duane Vermuelen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kwagga Smith were very impressive in this regard, making 11, 14 and 15 tackles respectively.
In just his second Test appearance, Smith not only topped the tackle count but also beat two defenders through eight carries and won two turnovers.
A mention also needs to go to Cheslin Kolbe, who was targeted by the All Blacks on defence but stood up strong, making 13 tackles and only missing two.
Kolbe was also highly effective on attack, despite living off scraps for most of the match.
Not only did he create the score which allowed the Boks to level the match, but he also made the most of the ball he was given, making 46m from five carries, beating three defenders and making two linebreaks.
Also impressive was loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, who put in a strong shift, making eight tackles and winning two turnovers in his hour on the park.
Francois Louw was again effective off the bench, winning a crucial turnover when the Springboks were under pressure in their 22.
African News Agency (ANA)