The first half of this iconic fixture was not controlled by the team in green and gold like many had predicted. New Zealand, started the braver, more physical and if it wasn’t for some late Am magic would have kept the Springboks to zero heading into halftime.
The opening 20 minutes was a tight, cagey game, with neither side able to put points on the board. However it was obvious this was not the same New Zealand as we saw last week.
On 25 minutes, the game burst into life. An initial break from his own try line by Caleb Clarke completely split the South Africa defence and the ball was shipped wide to Will Jordan who equally beat a number of defenders for pace. With a penalty advantage, the All Blacks then moved the ball across the line for captain Sam Crane to score in the corner – a welcome relief after the media pressure of last week. (0-8)
24’ | TRY! Skip crosses over in the corner! Caleb Clarke breaks out of our 22 and the boys work plenty of phases to set up Sam for the diving finish. So good!
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 13, 2022
New Zealand were the better side from minute one, however for a 10 minute period they were nothing short of electric. It was everything rugby fans associate with the old New Zealand, dominant forwards, quick ruck speed and devastatingly quick backs who turn defence into attack in a matter of seconds.
The away side could have had their second only minutes latter after another superb line break set up Caleb Clarke however the towering presence of Eben Etzebeth made a brilliant cover tackle.
They did not have to wait long for another try however. On 36 minutes, an intense period of pressure was rewarded by a try from hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho who span off the back of a ruck. (0-15)
— TheRugbyChampionship (@SanzarTRC) August 7, 2022
With ten minutes to go before half time and the Springboks not firing it seemed as though the All Blacks would head into the half with a comfortable lead.
However, on 37 minutes arguably the best player in the world, well and truly entered the game. Outnumbered on the wing, 5 meters out of the try line, Lukhanyo Am showed immense strength and delightful footwork to bamboozle the opposition and finish in the corner for the hosts first try of the game. (7-15)
Momentum is a funny old thing, and after being walked over for 30 minutes, The Springboks were dominant for the final three and kicked a three pointer with the clock in the red (10-15).
Amazingly, there is now only 5 points between the sides. South Africa will be disappointed with their extremely poor first half performance but New Zealand will feel as though this game should already be sewn up.
Definitely NOT the half we saw coming and it can go either way heading into the second 40.