As expected, the All Blacks were convincing winners in Wellington on Saturday, running six tries past the Springboks in a 40-7 victory.
As expected, the All Blacks were convincing winners in Wellington on Saturday, running six tries past the Springboks in a 40-7 Tri-Nations victory.
No surprises then. Few pundits gave the make-shift South African side much of a chance and they were comprehensively beaten.
Wingers Cory Jane and Zac Guildford both scored twice as the New Zealand led from start to finish, dominating every aspect of play to retain the Freedom Cup.
Over 20 missed tackled from the visitors didn't help their cause much, neither did their erratic line-out, usually their strongest weapon. The South African's only reply came through a try from skipper John Smit.
Just how much can be read into this result is debatable but what is clear is that no more that two or three of these Boks can expect to make the first-choice side.
By contrast, they'll be no complaints from the Kiwi fans about their side's performance as the men in Black (with a new white collar) put on a master-class of clinical finishing to lead 18-7 at half-time before keeping a clean sheet in the second period.
With the game won, Graham Henry could even afford the luxury giving fly-half understudy Colin Slade some game time alongside maestro Dan Carter.
Carter's score-opening penalty in the third minute took him back to the top of Test rugby's all-time points-scorers list, moving ahead of Jonny Wilkinson.
Things didn't start well for South Africa as Morne Steyn missed his first attempt at goal soon afterwards – his first miss in 39 Tri-Nations kicks. It was omen for a very long night facing the tourists.
It wasn't long before the All Blacks took the game by the scruff of the neck as two tries in quick succession put the visitors behind the eight ball. The result never realistically looked in doubt from then on.
With numbers on the outside and the Bok defence disorganised, Wyatt Crockett's first Test try wasn't difficult to score as he crossed in the corner after twelve minutes.
Just three minutes later the hosts struck again as they broke out from their own 22. Guildford's pace finished it off – it was also his first international try – but all the credit must go to Carter, who got his side going forward with a clever chip and then split the Bok defence a phase later with a jink and a dummy.
South Africa hadn't looked like scoring in the first half-hour so it was brave call from Smit to opt for a line-out rather than take the points from rare a penalty. The gamble paid off though as Smit himself received the ball as he wrapped around the line-out to barge over under the sticks.
That brief glimmer of hope was quickly extinguished however as two long passes set up a mismatch between Jane and Smit. The Hurricane flyer easily stepped past the hooker before turning on the afterburners to give New Zealand an 11-point lead at the break.
It was much the same story in the second half. Juan de Jongh did well to hold up Ma'a Nonu but from the ensuing scrum the hosts had another overlap out wide and Jane cruised in for his second try.
The home back line could do no wrong as Mils Muliaina stepped one way and popped a pass the other to Guilford, who could score untouched.
Guilford also had a hand in the final nail in the coffin as his inside pass found Slade, who cruised home.
Having each bagged a bonus point, next week's clash between New Zealand and Australia should be a thriller.
Man of the match: Tough to pick out a single figure is such one-sided display but a mention must go to the entire All Black pack, who went forward at every scrum. Jane and Guildford advanced their arguments for a berth in the World Cup 30 but we'll go for Dan Carter. Despite missing a few conversion in difficult kicking conditions, The world-record holder made all the right decisions and played a significant role in two tries.
Moment of the match: Not only was Guildford's first try was a gem, but it gave the hosts a 13-point lead. The Boks were never going to back from there.
Villain of the match: No nasty stuff to report.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Crockett, Guildford 2, Jane 2, Slade
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
For South Africa:
New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Richie McCaw (C), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements:16 Corey Flynn, 17 John Afoa, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Colin Slade, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.
South Africa: 15 Morne Steyn, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Danie Rossouw, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Gerhard Mostert, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Ryan Kankowski, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee:Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match officials:Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assessor: Tappe Henning