It was a day of improvements in generally all departments that carried the day for the Springboks in order to effect their first win against arch-enemy, The All Blacks since the Tri Nations match in August 2011. On Saturday, 4 October, at Ellis Park, it was the great effort of the two flyhalfs that combined to provide a nail biting finish to the game as the Springboks won 27-25 in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match. It all started with Handre Pollard, who tore mercilessly into the Kiwi defence, coming away with two tries and adding 19 points to the final Boks tally. Again with less than two minutes to go before the end of the match, replacement flyhalf, Pat Lambie slotted home a 55-meter penalty to not only take back the stolen lead from the All Blacks but to also hand the Boks their sweetest victory in a long time.
The match had a déjà vu effect on those that had watched a similar showing last year when, after an hour of Springboks dominance, the New Zealand side came back and completely swamped their opponents in the last quarter and snatched the victory from the jaws of their arc enemies. After that match in 2013, Coach Hayneke Meyer, in admitting victory, highlighted several areas that required improvement. Two of the areas of concern for the then new Springboks coach were conditioning and mental strength as well as utilizing the bench by the coaching department. Speaking at the end of the match, captain Jean de Villiers paid tribute to the fitness levels in his side as well as their calm approach to the game as having carried the day to give the South African side a well deserved victory. In agreement with this contention, Coach Meyer said that the fitness levels of his side had improved immensely, adding that his coaching department had become much better at making use of the bench.
In Saturday’s match, the Springboks dominated the match for the entire first half courtesy of the effort of flyhalf, Handre Pollard. It got so bad for the All Blacks that, at the 48th minute mark, the Springboks were leading 24-13. The South African side played some good rugby with a combination of tries and penalties. Then the Kiwi tide awakened! The All Blacks railroaded the home team and battered them from all angles, leaving them gasping for breath as if they were drowning in the green sea of Ellis Park. Two tries in the 69th and in the 71st minutes by the Island nation ensured that the match quickly shifted from being a comfortable lead for the home team to becoming an away team affair and the massive Ellis Park was totally silenced. In the end, it took a tackle from Liam Messam on Schalke Burger and, after watching the replay on television, the English referee, Barnes awarded a penalty 55 meters out. Given the timing and the effect his penalty would have on the match, Pat Lambie showed nerves of steel when he calmly slotted the penalty home to give the team their sweetest victory in a long time. And a well deserved victory it was!
The match on Saturday showed an all round effort from the different coaching and playing departments, which contributed to produce a scintillating performance from the Boks. Perhaps to sum it all up effectively was skipper Jean de Villiers’ observation at the end of the match when he said, “It was all about knowing your job and doing your job.”