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Springboks snatch draw in Wellington

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Springboks issue World Cup warning by snatching late draw versus All Blacks

South Africa have issued a warning to rugby’s leading nations by snatching a last-minute 16-16 draw with a shaken All Blacks in Wellington.

Less than two months out from the World Cup, the Springboks have proved they have serious credentials to claim a third world crown, while silencing those who believe New Zealand are hot favourites to defend their title.

Reserve half-back Herschel Jantjes was the hero for the visitors at the end of Saturday’s absorbing Rugby Championship encounter, latching onto a Cheslin Kolbe chip and juggling before crossing with 50 seconds remaining.

It completed a brilliant week for Jantjes, who scored twice on debut in last weekend’s 35-17 defeat of Australia in Johannesburg. Five-eighth Handre Pollard slotted the pressure conversion to cement the third draw between the great rivals.

On a miserable night for the world champions, influential lock Brodie Retallick exited with a lower arm injury which might impact on his involvement in the world tournament in Japan.

After being dominated for most of the first half, New Zealand appeared to wrest control when a piece of Beauden Barrett magic put Jack Goodhue over and gave them a flattering 7-6 half-time lead.

The All Blacks dominated the second half but paid for a lack of concentration as South Africa found late resolve, as they did 10 months ago in the 36-34 win at the same venue. By comparison, this was a grim spectacle dominated by punishing defences and high error counts.

Both teams were overhauled from wins a week earlier, with the All Blacks making the most-intriguing switch by playing regular five-eighth Barrett at full-back and introducing Richie Mo’unga at five-eighth.

Pollard capitalised on the strong early work of his pack with two penalty goals in the opening 10 minutes and missed another midway through the first half.

With the Springboks looking to ram home their advantage just before the break, skipper Duane Vermeulen dropped the ball cold in what proved a turning point.

The ball was swung to Barrett, who burned off winger Makazole Mapimpi before putting outside centre Goodhue clear to complete a 75m counter.

South Africa’s discipline deserted them after half-time, particularly at the breakdown, allowing the hosts to establish a foothold.

A Barrett penalty goal was cancelled out by a Pollard three-pointer but Mo’unga, who was handed the late kicking duties, slotted two penalties in the final 15 minutes before Jantjes’ late leap.

The teams next meet in their opening World Cup pool game on September 21 in Yokohama.

– AAP 

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Springboks issue World Cup warning by snatching late draw versus All Blacks