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'Put some respect on the name' - Jantjies emerges as unlikely Bok hero

By Sam Smith
Elton Jantjies of the Springboks and Herschel Jantjies (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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Oft maligned backup flyhalf Elton Jantjies has emerged the unlikely hero as the Springboks exacted revenge on the All Blacks with a penalty kick two minutes after full-time securing an incredible 31-29 victory in the final round of the Rugby Championship.

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Jantjies had just minutes earlier kicked a clutch 77th-minute drop goal to edge South Africa back ahead, a 40-metre effort that just happened to be his first drop goal in international rugby.

Moments later New Zealand would claw back the lead via the boot of Jordie Barrett. All looked lost for the Springboks as it appeared that the world champions were headed for their fourth successive loss after the 78th minute penalty put the All Blacks in front.

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In their first clash in Townsville last Saturday, fullback Barrett stepped up to seal a 19-17 win in the same thrilling fashion. This week South Africa won a penalty in extra time but rather than veteran Francois Steyn attempting a long-range penalty he booted it downfield.

The Boks managed to secure the match-winning penalty, with Jantjies stepping up to nail the memorable win. It denied New Zealand a clean sweep of the Rugby Championship.

 

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The All Blacks scored three tries in the first stanza to steam to a 20-14 halftime lead with a sensational five-pointer by captain Ardie Savea the stand-out.

Five-eighth Beauden Barrett made the break before off-loading to Rieko Ioane, who trampled over hapless Boks fullback Willie le Roux before offloading to Savea to swan-dive across the line.

Halfback Brad Weber, in just his third start, snaffled a try after a line-out turnover while winger Sevu Reece also scored thanks to a le Roux spill off a restart and Beauden Barrett kick to the flanks.

South Africa also had their moments of brilliance with centre Lukhanyo Am slipping a pass behind his back to winger S’busiso Nkosi who found a charging Damian de Allende for a fifth-minute try.

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The Springboks rang the changes early and it proved a decisive move with their replacements stopping the All Blacks in their tracks.

After two penalty strikes, they hit the lead 22-20 in the 51st minute when Steyn kicked a 50:22 and from the lineout, South Africa sent the ball wide for Makazole Mapimpi to score in the corner.

Handre Pollard again missed the conversion before a Jantjies penalty took over the kicking duties to extend the lead to five points. That was the sole try of the second half with defence from both teams brutal, with penalties, as well as a 76th-minute drop goal by Jantjies keeping the scoreboard ticking over. The lead changed four times in the last five minutes but it was South Africa in front when it counted.

Jantjies, who has had a love-hate relationship with the Springboks’ fanbase since he first laced up his boots in the green and gold in 2012, is now being lauded online.

South African journalist Mark Keohane wrote on his website: “This is an Elton Jantjies who has been given very little game time this Rugby Championship, and this year as a whole. This is an Elton Jantjies who has consistently been lambasted for a lack of BMT [Big Match Temperament]. This is an Elton Jantjies who has been criticized even after playing well. This is an Elton Jantjies who off the back of a monumental Springbok effort, guided his team to victory over an All Black side unbeaten in ten games. And this is all that matters in the moment.”

Twitter was also gushing over Jantijies.

“Time to put some MORE respect on Elton Jantjies’ name’ Tweeted well-known South African fan account Jared Wright.

“Can we all agree that Elton Jantjies was on fire today?” wrote another.

It appears that Jantjies may have just come full circle with the South African rugby fanbase.

– Additional reporting AAP

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'Put some respect on the name' - Jantjies emerges as unlikely Bok hero

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