Rugby Championship: New Zealand scored an emphatic victory over South Africa
Last Updated: 14/09/13 12:59pm
Stand-in skipper Kieran Read crossed twice as New Zealand recorded an emphatic 29-15 victory over Rugby Championship rivals South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland.
However, the game was marred by the controversial second-half dismissal of Springbok forward Bismarck du Plessis for a second yellow card offence, and a serious shoulder injury to fly-half Dan Carter.
The All Blacks were never headed after Read's early score, and while du Plessis was in the sin-bin after only 17 minutes the hosts scored again through Brodie Retallick.
Du Plessis returned to score South Africa's first try before the break as the All Blacks led 17-10 at half-time, but Read and Sam Cane went over to put the result beyond doubt before Pat Lambie earned a late consolation for the visitors.
The first yellow shown to du Plessis, for a tackle on Dan Carter deemed to be illegal by Romain Poite despite du Plessis' apparent use of the arms, came back to haunt him in the second half after he lead with the forearm going into a tackle with Liam Messam.
The All Blacks regardless were as clinical as ever, in the end running in four tries as they capitalised on their numerical advantage.
They were on the board after five minutes after working their way upfield, and after winning the lineout a series of forward drives resulting in captain Read burrowing his way over for the first score.
Carter converted before Morne Steyn's first penalty after an infringement by Retallick then had the Springboks on the board.
Du Plessis's work at the breakdown has become somewhat of a speciality and the hooker was at it twice in the opening quarter, producing two turnovers of which the second lead to Steyn's second attempt at goal - forcing the distance and as a result paying the price with his accuracy to leave the score at 7-3.
A monster, but legal tackle by Bismarck on Carter then lit a firework under what was an already enthralling contest. Poite's interpretation that the du Plessis' tackle was illegal, but there was worse news for New Zealand as Carter was forced to leave the field.
And the hosts made South Africa pay, Beauden Barrett's break sucked in the Springbok forwards and left a space behind which, after Conrad Smith pounced on a loose ball, was capitalised on by Retallick for New Zealand's second try.
Nearly adrift at 14-3, the Springboks desperately needed a response and it came through who else but du Plessis. A rampaging maul near to the All Blacks line ended with the hooker at the bottom of the pile.
Barrett's first penalty shortly after though stemmed any shift in momentum as the All Blacks kept a seven-point lead to close out the first half.
The second began as controversially as the opening 40 minutes finished. A second yellow card for du Plessis after his forearm on Messam meant the Springboks were down to 14 men for the remainder of the match.
Read's second try shortly afterwards gave New Zealand an insurmountable lead at 24-10, with the Springboks having to carry out an extra man's work.
Read then had a chance for a hat-trick but the ball just wouldn't bounce in his favour - a moment where the All Blacks run of luck rarely went against them.
An increasingly weary Springbok defence succumbed again when Cane - who ended the match with a head wound - drove over from close-range, adding further gloss to a growing scoreline, although New Zealand lost Read to the bin following a sustained period of Springbok pressure.
Nonu joined his captain on the sidelines for a shoulder charge on Jean de Villiers that in all likelihood will be punished further after an examination by the citing commissioner.
The growing pressure on the All Blacks did yield a second try for the Springboks after Lambie athletically finished off Steyn's cross-field kick as they chased a losing bonus point, but time was against them.
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