In a compelling prelude to their World Cup title defence, South Africa delivered a commanding performance, defeating New Zealand 35-7 at Twickenham.
The Springboks, current world champions, took control from the outset, leaving the World Cup favourites, New Zealand, grappling with challenges. Notably, Scott Barrett’s first-half ejection has raised concerns about his availability for the upcoming tournament.
The momentum for South Africa was evident even before this match. Just last weekend, they secured a resounding 52-16 victory over Wales in Cardiff. The intensity was palpable from the start against the All Blacks, with Barrett receiving a yellow card in the 13th minute due to repeated infringements by the New Zealand side.
Adding to New Zealand’s woes, prop Tyrel Lomax had to exit the game due to what seemed like a significant knee injury. Shortly after, captain Sam Kane also found himself penalised with a yellow card, marking a challenging first quarter for the All Blacks.
Despite their recent triumph in the 2023 Rugby Championship, New Zealand struggled to contain the Springboks. Siya Kolisi, seizing an opportunity, scored the first try of the match at the 18-minute mark.
However, the All Blacks’ challenges didn’t end there. Richie Mo’unga narrowly missed a penalty, and Kurt-Lee Arendse capitalised on an interception, extending South Africa’s lead to 14-0. The situation further deteriorated for New Zealand when Barrett received his second yellow card, leading to his dismissal from the game. This incident raises questions about his participation in the World Cup opener against France on September 8.
The second half saw the Springboks maintaining their momentum. Malcolm Marx added to the scoreboard following a line-out. Although Pieter-Steph Du Toit received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, South Africa’s forward pack, rejuvenated by seven substitutions, powered through, with Bongi Mbonambi marking another try.
South Africa’s dominance was evident throughout, with Kwagga Smith scoring yet another try. Manie Libbok’s impeccable performance with the boot further solidified their lead. New Zealand’s solitary moment of reprieve came with Cam Roigard’s first Test try.
As the World Cup looms, this match serves as a testament to South Africa’s preparedness and raises questions about New Zealand’s strategy moving forward.