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How the All Blacks came through the pressure-filled final ten minutes at Ellis Park

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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The All Blacks faced a pressure-filled final ten minute period at Ellis Park after the Springboks took the lead for the first time in the 67th minute when Handre Pollard landed his third penalty goal.

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Down by two points at 23-21, Will Jordan marked a Springbok high ball inside his 22 before restarting play with a quick tap and sparking a counter-attack. The backs found centre Rieko Ioane on the right edge who blazed away downfield into opposition territory.

The daring play paid off after seven phases off high tempo ball movement when second five-eighth David Havili stretched out to score a try to give the All Blacks the lead back, which they never relinquished.

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Ardie Savea spoke of how the team remained calm after losing the lead which was integral in responding the way they did, with lots of linking play with ball-in-hand.

“We talk a lot about being calm in those situations, the tone of our voices and how we deliver messages,” he said.

“When this team is calm, when this team is fluid and the players are fluid, we play some of our best footy.

“As leaders we talked about that. There were moments where it could’ve gone the other way. Just proud of the leaders that stood up today.”

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Richie Mo’unga’s clutch conversion pushed the lead to five points at 28-23 which added a little more scoreboard pressure for the Springboks to deal with.

A crucial Sam Whitelock ruck turnover with three minutes remaining ended one of South Africa’s kick returns, allowing the All Blacks to continue to plug the corners and force the Springboks out from deep.

A pinpoint kick from Jordie Barrett forced Willie le Roux to hand New Zealand a five metre lineout and brother Scott Barrett was able to burrow over moments later for a game-sealing try.

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Savea said the side had to keep their emotions in check after Barrett’s try to close out the last minute and ensure that South Africa did not have a chance to steal the game back at the death.

In the second test in 2021 the All Blacks held a slim lead before a failure to execute with ball-in-hand in the dying 10 seconds gave the Springboks the chance to win.

“We scored that try but we knew we had to get back and we looked at the clock and just nailed the next moment,” he said.

“We talked about positive moments and we need to accumulate that, moment on moment on moment.

“There was a period in the back end of that first half where South Africa put us under a lot of pressure, but towards the end we just needed to nail our next task.

“Receive the kick-off, exit well, trust our defence and we did that.”

The All Black loose forward said that the review during the week highlighted just where they could improve and find opportunities after ‘being suffocated’ at Mbombela Stadium last week.

“It was amazing, last week it felt like we were suffocated, it felt like a brick wall,” he said.

“When we actually reviewed the clips, our coach Foz identified a few critical things that we needed to work on.

“When we saw it, it was actually quite evident. There was some of it that we executed today. That’s a big ups to the people who are sorting that out.”

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