And once again scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies was on the Bok scoresheet as he followed up last week’s two-try Test debut with a matchwinning try at the death this time after joining the fray as a second-half replacement.
Flyhalf Handré Pollard crowned the Bok fightback with his conversion for an epic 16-all stalemate.
After taking a narrow 7-6 halftime lead, the All Blacks never looked like losing the match after they overshadowed the Boks in the second half. The teams managed a try each in the match.
The Boks exerted early pressure straight from the kick-off as they took possession through phases in the All Blacks’ half. They were awarded a 2nd-minute penalty which Pollard steered through the posts (3-0).
Early line-outs went the way of the All Blacks who managed a steal first time out but they were unable to capitalise as the Boks’ continued to apply pressure with excellent line speed on defence.
Pollard nailed a second penalty in the 9th minute after a Bok raid into the All Blacks’ 22m area was thwarted almost under their posts (6-0).
There were some encouraging signs for the Boks as the first 20 minutes were played almost entirely in the All Blacks half. The Boks’ cause was strengthened by the fact that the All Blacks made six handling errors during this time.
A failed penalty attempt by Pollard in the 25th minute denied the Boks a chance to increase the lead at a time when they were well and truly dominating the game.
Around the half-hour mark, the All Blacks managed some momentum on a raid into the Bok half, but they came unstuck when prop Steven Kitshoff made an excellent turn-over to put paid to the threat.
Four minutes ahead of the break, the Boks defence were caught napping when the All Blacks capitalised on a handling error deep inside their own half. They staged a telling counter-attack in which fullback Beauden Barrett made all the running down the right channel and centre Jack Goodhue ran a good supporting line to take the scoring pass.
Barrett’s conversion gave the All Blacks a 7-6 halftime lead, somewhat against the run of play.
The All Blacks looked a vastly transformed side when second-half play started and this time they were far more competent on attack as they surged into the Bok half where they picked up a penalty. Barrett goaled in the 47th minute to stretch the lead to four points (10-6).
The All Blacks continued to up the tempo and the Boks were forced to settle for a largely defensive role. Their efforts were highlighted with a scrum penalty which strangely Barrett missed from a kickable position.
By this time there was a raft of personnel changes on both sides but it little to offset the All Blacks’ grip on the game in second-half play.
With replacement props Tendai Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane locking down for their first scrum the Boks won a scrum penalty on the hour mark and Pollard made no mistake from the kicking tee (10-9).
However, the advance was undone when the Boks went offside on the All Blacks 22m line and flyhalf Richie Mo’unga struck the ball sweetly to reclaim the four-point lead (13-9).
Substitute Francois Louw made a crucial turn-over in the 69th minute just when the All Blacks threatened to break down the Bok defence five metres out.
However, the Boks suffered another setback after Australian Nic Berry failed to spot an All Black knock-on at a loose scrum where the All Blacks were awarded a penalty which Mo’unga converted for a 16-9 lead.
Just when it seemed like the All Blacks were headed for victory, the Boks staged a dramatic fightback which was crowned by a matchsaving converted try by Jantjies, two minutes ahead of the hooter.
An ice-cool Pollard threaded his conversion straight through the posts (16-16) for what was the fourth draw in the history of rugby between these two giants of world rugby.
Scorers: New Zealand 16 (7): Try: Jack Goodhue. Conversion: Beauden Barrett. Penalties: Barrett, Richie Mo’unga (2)
South Africa 16 (6): Try: Herschel Jantjies. Conversion: Handré Pollard. Penalties: Handré Pollard (3) – African News Agency (ANA)