Merely months before the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off, New Zealand failed to beat South Africa for the second consecutive time as Herschel Jantjies’s late try secured a last-minute draw for the Springboks. Bolstered by the return of stars Malcolm Marx, Faf de Clerk, Hendre Pollard, Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux, South Africa dominated a scrappy first half, but it was New Zealand who headed into half time with a narrow lead.
Steve Hansen’s selection of Beauden Barrett at full-back raised a few eyebrows in the build up to the fixture, with Richie Mo’unga slotting in at fly half. Similar to England’s Ford/Farrell axis two years ago, this double playmaker system allows the tactically sound Mo’unga to control the tempo while Barrett is unshackled to play his natural attacking game.
The All Blacks coach’s gamble paid off as Barrett displayed scintillating pace to make a forty-metre foray into Springbok territory before offloading to Duncan Goodhue to touch down.
The teams continued to trade blows in the second half, with Brodie Retallick suffering a dislocated shoulder. The elite lock is a potential doubt for the World Cup, with his presence a huge part of New Zealand’s set piece game.
In the final minute, quick hands by Pollard and le Roux set the electric Kolbe free. The Toulouse winger’s chip was caught by substitute Herschel Jantjies who silenced the crowd as he finished off the South African counter-attack.
The ice-cool Pollard slotted the pivotal conversion as the clock turned red to prove why he and his national team are ones to watch for this year’s World Cup.