Perhaps Argentina Pumas’ Coach Mario Ledesma was not as errant as we had assumed earlier, when he said that the All Blacks are no longer invulnerable.
The Kiwis had to pull off a Winx-like performance to make it past the Springboks 32 – 20 in South Africa.
South Africa held a 12- point lead for four minutes remaining in the game. In the time it took for Springboks supporters to get out of their seats and head for the betting stand to cash in their tickets, New Zealand erased that 12-point deficit with a try by lock Scott Barrett.
Now within one score of the hosts, New Zealand set up an attacking lineout that resulted in replacement flanker Ardie Savea crossing to secure a comeback of at least remarkable, if not epic, proportions.
New Zealand Captain Kieran Read supplied comments to reporters at the post-match presentation.
“You have got to have belief deep down that you can come back.“We hung in there, when they got a bit of momentum we were able to stymie it and come back.We showed great respect to the Boks, but both teams have got great respect for each other.”
The first half of the game was drawn. The Boks used clever kicking to keep the All Blacks trapped in their own half, but South Africa did not use that advantage to scoring effect and the half ended at 6 – 6.
Siya Kolisi answered an All Blacks try with one of his own late in the game to put the margin at 12. He summed up the heartbreaking loss by the Boks after the game.
“We let it go at the end, they were more alert than us,” Kolisi said.“It was really good at times, we will have to learn from this and go back and look at we need to do next time.But I’m proud of the way the team is growing.”
Someone should assemble comments such as those in a book, so that New Zealand opponents have a ready reference to offer in the post-mortem of a loss to New Zealand.