South Africa produced an incredible display to set themselves up perfectly for the Rugby World Cup with a 35-7 thrashing of New Zealand at Twickenham.
On this evidence, the defending champions will be incredibly difficult to beat in France as they utterly dismantled their opponents on Friday to secure a record victory.
The Springboks were easily the better side from start to finish as the All Blacks had no answer to the power of Jacques Nienaber’s outfit.
They touched down five times in total with Siya Kolisi, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi and Kwagga Smith crossing the whitewash.
To make matters worse for New Zealand, they had Scott Barrett red carded after he received two yellow cards in the first half.
Their only bright spot came through Cam Roigard, whose brilliant individual try lifted spirits slightly in an otherwise dreadful evening in London.
In their Rugby Championship fixture earlier this year, the All Blacks dominated the opening quarter and went 17-0 ahead.
Foster’s men controlled the game physically as the Boks struggled, but it was a different story on Friday. Keen to avoid the same fate, the South Africans came out with plenty of intent and the first 20 minutes was entirely played in the New Zealand half.
Under pressure, the Kiwis consistently infringed and were perhaps fortunate to escape a yellow card following three successive maul penalties.
It seemed inevitable that referee Matthew Carley would run out of patience and Scott Barrett was sin-binned for taking Faf de Klerk off the ball.
Captain Sam Cane soon followed him after another illegal act during a Bok lineout drive, and Nienaber’s charges eventually took advantage.
They had been frustrated by some stubborn New Zealand defence, who had held them up twice over the line, but Kolisi rewarded their dominance by touching down.
From the restart, the All Blacks had an opportunity to reduce the arrears when Eben Etzebeth went off his feet at a ruck, but Richie Mo’unga, from pretty much straight in front, was surprisingly awry.
That rather summed up their evening as the Springboks had much the better of the game. Foster’s men were forcing matters and it led to another mistake, this time from Jordie Barrett, whose attempted off-load landed in the grateful arms of Arendse, and the wing did the rest.
The frustration boiled over into other areas of the field and Scott Barrett stupidly decided to plant his shoulder into the head of Marx at a ruck.
He received a second yellow card and was fortunate that it was not upgraded to a straight red, but it did leave the All Blacks down a man for the rest of the match.
Even arch-poacher Will Jordan could not help them as his try was ruled out for a knock-on earlier in the move. It left New Zealand 14 points in arrears going into the second period and with plenty to do.
They needed a response but instead it was South Africa who struck first in the final 40 minutes when a simple lineout move saw Kolisi break off the lineout and find Marx to cross the whitewash.
The Springboks almost had another but Canan Moodie was denied a wonderful individual score as he was deemed to be offside following a TMO review.
Although Pieter-Steph du Toit was sin-binned moments later, South Africa were not to be denied a fourth try and another powerful driving maul resulted in Mbonambi touching down.
New Zealand created very little and it was almost too easy for the Boks. They were maintaining their forward dominance and Smith duly finished excellently from close range to embarrass their opponents further.
Although Roigard did go over for the All Blacks late on, it didn’t mask what was a concerning evening for the New Zealanders.
However, Friday was all about Nienaber’s men, who were utterly brilliant at Twickenham and will now take plenty of confidence into the World Cup.
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The article Springboks lay down Rugby World Cup marker with stunning demolition of 14-man All Blacks appeared first on Planetrugby.com.